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Nayeli Ramirez

“I was really scared of not having any friends, but everyone welcomed me and invited me,” says Nayeli Ramirez, a seventh-grade student at St. Ann Catholic School in Decatur. Ramirez came to St. Ann’s from the public school system at the beginning of her second-grade year, and she has excelled ever since. “She is an outstanding student,” remarks Brandi Lumley, St. Ann’s principal. “She is involved as an altar server, a member of the choir, and a reader for our student Masses. She is a top student who works on her grades ... She is always willing to help, whatever the cause may be.”

Even though Ramirez jokes that “the dress code stood out” when she first started attending St. Ann’s, it was something more integral to the school that made an impression. “I didn’t see it coming,” she declares. “I didn’t know I was supposed to go to Mass on Fridays.”

Having what Lumley calls “a religious base with morals,” has helped shape Ramirez.

After an incident at the school involving the defacement of desks, Ramirez stayed after school to clean all the desks. “She was not asked to do this,” remembers Lumley, “nor did I know she was working on it until I had to grab something out of the room.”

Ramirez shyly admits that she likes the school’s “order” and “rules.” And, she is a prime example of what structure with God at the center can help form — a self-giving, hardworking, thoughtful disciple of Jesus Christ.