LAUREL – For Bond Mill Elementary School, Mia Maniece has been a force to be reckoned with since kindergarten.
Maniece is a “gold student” at Bond Mill and does not settle for anything less than the best. That is something her principal, Justin Fitzgerald, has seen on a day-to-day basis.
“Mia, since kindergarten, has been such a tremendous influence. She’s what we call our ‘gold student;’ a student who represents all the qualities that we are looking for in a student,” Fitzgerald said. “Scholastically she does everything we ask for, but then there is the other side of her as a person. She is a great person, as kind hearted as can be.”
Fitzgerald said she is not only a leader at Bond Mill, but also a student who is constantly looking for ways to help make her school a better place, help her friends achieve and make herself a better person.
As head of the Gold Committee, Maniece leads a team of other students to coordinate projects that benefit both Bond Mill and the community. She also has a passion for sustainability, particularly recycling and composting.
“If we don’t compost or we don’t recycle, it could majorly affect the Earth,” she said. “I like helping people. If they have a problem and I can help them, I feel good about myself and it’s the same feeling for helping the Earth.”
Maniece said she loves how beautiful the Earth is and does not want to see it become “one big trash heap.”
And the Gold Committee is not the only outlet Maniece has at Bond Mill. She is involved in drama club and safety patrol and has been on the honor roll every year at the school.
She has a love for reading, working to save the planet, soccer and especially cooking. Although Maniece is only in fifth grade, she already has her sights on college. She wants to attend Le Cordon Bleu in Paris where she hopes to gain continuing training.
Right now, she has a soft spot for culinary confections of the sweet variety.
“Cooking is really close to me because I feel like its one of the ways I can express myself to other people and I can express my feelings through food,” she said.
Beyond school, Maniece has triumphed over personal hurdles. In her earlier years she had epilepsy, which was diagnosed after she collapsed several times, seemingly without cause.
Maniece said the diagnosis was scary to her and she wondered if she would have to worry about seizures for the rest of her life. She also struggled with the medication, which was given to her at a dose higher than she could tolerate.
“It had seriously affected me,” she said. “I had to take medicine almost every day and every night but they changed it when they found out it was an overdose. It was scary and a critical part of my life.
“I was nervous thinking about ‘was I going to have a disorder for the rest of my life’ or ‘was it going to be something that bothers me’ or ‘would I have to be in special classes.’”
Despite fear, Maniece said her condition is under control and, for the most part, she has grown out of the disorder. And, despite hardships, Fitzgerald said Maniece is one of the most positive students he knows, who does not let anything faze her.
“I always see a smile on her face. There’s never a time she’s not completely positive,” he said. “She’s like a breath of fresh air everywhere she goes.”
She’s also started something of a legacy at Bond Mill, Fitzgerald said. He said the students in younger grades look up to Maniece and both admire and want embulate her work. Through her leadership, Fitzgerald believes Maniece will encourage other to carry on her work when she moves on to middle school.
He also believes she will make waves when she moves beyond her K-12 education.
“The world is such a better place because Mia is in it and we will all benefit for years to come. I can promise you that,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re excited about what she will bring to the world.”