Nominee strives to improve
LAUGHLIN — The Young Wonder Award is one of many for the Community Achievement Awards and is given to a young volunteer, mentor, inventor or entrepreneur aged 16 or younger and is committed to the betterment of the community.
Daniel Montoya is a Laughlin Junior Senior High School freshman and is one of the finalists for The Young Wonder Award. Without pause he talks about his desire to help other students and be a service to the community. He is a lifelong Laughlin resident.
“I’m trying to help fix that,” Montoya said of all the bullying he sees in the schools.
“I talk (to kids) and give them a high-five and help them be known instead of them walking around the halls without someone to talk to,” he added.
He said he wants to help create a better school environment.
“I was so excited to be nominated for something I’ve basically done my whole life,” said Montoya, grinning ear to ear. “It was just a good experience for me.”
It’s a nice feeling to know someone thinks he’s doing a good job, he said, and that what he does is noticed and is helping.
He’s grown up doing things for others. He’s been in the Boy Scouts and has helped with his community church. He goes out of his way to help others with their groceries.
“I go to the bus stop and pick up trash or I’d go sweep dirt off the sidewalk so it would be clean for people to walk on,” he said.
He said the desire to help around is mostly self-motivated.
“I was a bad child as a kid, but instead of keeping myself in trouble, I do things to distract myself from getting into trouble,” he said.
Montoya used to be a bully and when he could really see who he was and how he was behaving he decided to change his ways, he said. He did go to some counseling and it helped him find a positive way of dealing with anger that he had.
Montoya said there were problems at home and it made him angry for a long time. Going to and talking with Michelle Wright through the schools has helped him a lot, he continued.
He needed to learn an alternate way of using that energy, he said. These days, other than volunteering around town, he’s playing football.
“It helps me get out all my anger, not like in a bad way, but in a way that I can be more effective in football,” said Montoya.
He’s not real sure who nominated him for the award, but he thinks it has to be someone who’s known him a long time, he said.
“I’m not looking to win because there are many great people out there who are nominated with me, I’m just (excited) to be nominated,” said Montoya.
“I’m so excited he was nominated,” said Dani Leroux, Laughlin Junior Senior High School dean of students. “I’ve been in education for 16 years and this kid is amazing.”
She said she wasn’t here when he started school years ago, but she has seen him for the last four. “I think he’s done a 360,” she added.
“He does have a rough background but his grandma is amazing,” Leroux said. She called him polite, motivated and shows great character.
“He is on our sports teams, he is always looking to help others in any capacity,” said Leroux. “He is looking to better himself both in life and in school.”
“I can’t say enough amazing things about this young man. He has siblings that continue to make poor choices but he is one of a kind and making great choices to make a future for himself,” she said.
He’s always treating people with respect, behaves like a gentleman and is a great role model, said Leroux.
“Super young man. I can’t wait to see where he goes in life,” said Leroux. “He is going places, great places, going from what he came from to where he is taking himself with the help of Gram, skies the limit for him,” she added.