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Kiwanis Students of the Month June 2024: Kwabena Ledbetter and Bishop Ootsey

(Note: although Ferndale Kiwanis Club usually selects one Ferndale High School student per month as their Student of the Month, in June, they opted to select two students.)

Kwabena Ledbetter

Recently-graduated FHS student Kwabena Ledbetter is a leader in multiple ways. He was elected Associated Student Body publicity director, and was a key part of the high school's student leadership team.

Ledbetter also served as one of the Ferndale School Board’s two student representatives starting in 2022, providing a key student perspective to Board discussions and policy. During his tenure, he repeatedly championed student voice and advocated for teens from underrepresented groups. Ledbetter said his favorite moment as a Board member was attending Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA) conferences and hearing great ideas from other school board members around the state.

“So much learning happened there, it really was an amazing experience,” Ledbetter said.

This year, Ledbetter was elected by fellow student school board representatives around Washington as the first-ever President of WSSDA’s Student Board Representatives Network. This is a group of school board student representatives throughout the state that meet monthly to discuss K-12 education and advocacy. In May, Ledbetter also received the Washington Association of School Administrators' Student Leadership Award, which honors a student leader who played a significant leadership role in initiatives or programs that promote inclusivity, access, and/or equity in their school and community.

Outside of student leadership, Ledbetter ran for the Golden Eagles’ track and cross country teams, sang in the school choir, and played French horn in band. He also has a fascination with meteorology. A few years ago, Ledbetter started a popular social media weather account for Ferndale, which he said helped him make friends after moving to Ferndale in 2019. He plans to study atmospheric science at the University of Washington this fall, and eventually work for the National Weather Service.

Ledbetter said the most influential person in his life is his mother, Dr. Sislena Ledbetter. He said he feels he “won the genetic lottery” by having her as a mother, and that her grit has pushed him to seek success.

“She left home at a young age to go to college alone as a first-generation student, and now she is here,” Ledbetter said. “She is so inspiring.”

Bishop Ootsey

A fellow member of the Class of 2024, Bishop Ootsey was also highly involved in student leadership. He was an elected ASB officer for three years of high school, ending his senior year as Executive Vice President.

Ootsey is also an accomplished multi-sport athlete for the Golden Eagles. He was the starting quarterback for FHS’ football team, and was a starting outfielder and guard for the baseball and basketball teams, respectively. During his time at high school, he also helped operate basketball camps so younger Ferndale students could hone their skills on the court.

Ootsey’s athletic career will continue this winter for Whatcom Community College’s basketball program. He’ll be majoring in education and hopes to eventually become a teacher and a coach.

“I want to become a teacher and continue to make a positive impact on youth in our community,” Ootsey said.

Ootsey said the most influential person in his life was his grandmother, who passed away two years ago. He said it’s been his mission to exemplify her values of kindness in his everyday life.

“I’ve done my best to leave an impact on others,” Ootsey said. “I chose to put my elders at the highest esteem, as they’re the people with experience.”