ally kalishman 
Junior Ally Kalishman learned about compassion and inclusion when they were shown to her at an early age. “I’ve had life-threatening allergies my whole life, so my parents had to find a school that would take good care of me,” she explains. “MICDS was the most welcoming and responsive one they visited, and becoming a student there really changed things for me. Teachers and staff paid close attention to my needs and made me feel safe, and that example of community really stuck with me.”

Now, Ally returns the favor by standing up for others. She is the student co-head of community service at MICDS and helps lead the Best Buddies program, which fosters friendships between students and developmentally disabled kids in the community. She also leads the school’s Peer to Peer program, which educates middle schoolers about responsible relationships and social media use. She volunteers with a program that donates Thanksgiving turkeys to a food bank, serves as production manager for a theater company that raises money for juvenile diabetes research, and does marketing and fundraising for a food allergy nonprofit.

One of her proudest accomplishments is creating a website that connects MICDS students with nonprofits and clubs that need volunteers. “So far, it’s working well,” Ally says. “It allows kids to track their service hours, and many have told me it has helped them become much more involved.” She plans to work as a Variety camp counselor this summer and hopes to decide on a college soon.

grace kalil
visitation academy
Grace Kalil sees social justice and environmental awareness as much more than abstract ideas. She believes they should figure into people’s actions and decisions on a daily basis. The senior recently received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Model of Justice Award for her efforts to keep subjects like these at the forefront.

“This year, 27 area schools participated in the Model of Justice Awards,” Grace says. “I was honored, happy and grateful to be included.” The awards are presented by the Archdiocese of St. Louis to honor local students who set an example for positive change in their communities. As president of Visitation’s Peace and Justice Club, Grace has helped organize speaker presentations, peaceful protests, workshops and other activities to educate about key issues. “We put together a climate change demonstration and encouraged people to develop new habits to help the planet,” Grace says. “It included facts about responsible agriculture, the ozone layer and other important topics.” She also helped plan Living Faith with Action, a social justice conference at St. Louis University High School. The event featured student-led workshops on subjects like climate change, refugee crises, racial equality, criminal justice reform and voter suppression.

Grace says she first became interested in social justice issues as a seventh-grader. “The Michael Brown case in 2014 made me aware of what people in the community were dealing with, and I decided to use my voice to help,” she says. She hopes to major in political science and then head to law school. “I’d like to become a civil rights attorney,” she says. “I want everyone to know that doing good for others is good for you as well.”

Inspiring by Example
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Inspiring by Example
Ally Kalishman of MICDS and Grace Kalil of Visitation Academy set an example of giving back to the community.
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