Genoa Middle School sixth-grade team honors legacy of former student with award
For the past several years, Genoa Middle School’s sixth-grade Team Journey has recognized students who demonstrate kindness and inclusiveness while supporting their peers and teachers.
The award that is presented to those being recognized is named in honor of Thomas Knox, a former Genoa student who suffered a sudden cardiac death from an abnormal heart rhythm in 2015. He was 14.
Thomas' parents, Lisa and Jim Knox, first visited Westerville middle schools in 2019 to talk about their son and his experiences, and to invite students to the outdoor hockey rink built in partnership with Westerville Parks and Recreation and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Following their visit, teacher Jamie Yeater proposed launching the Thomas Knox Award at Genoa to honor his legacy.
Since then, Team Journey has awarded the Thomas Knox Award to students each quarter.
“It means a lot to us because his memory continues to live on in this school,” Jim Knox said.
Thomas, according to his parents, was shy but happy. At 5 feet 2 inches tall, he was reluctant to engage with others, worried about being teased over his size. As an ardent ice hockey player and fan, his confidence soared when he became involved in his high school hockey organization. Older players accepted him at preseason workouts. He was thrilled when they asked him to lead a post-practice cheer. His hockey brotherhood embraced him as one of their own, which helped Knox flourish in school, his parents said.
Teachers in Genoa's Team Journey — Shannan McCreary, Eric Hoogeveen, Lisa Lunn, Carla Gilbert and Yeater — present the Thomas Knox Award in a special ceremony at the end of each quarter throughout the year. Lisa and Jim Knox have joined the festivities, including Genoa's last award recognition of the school year on May 18, to celebrate the award recipients and the impact they’ve made in their school community.
“Every time we come here it’s heartfelt,” said Lisa Knox. “It’s just one more way to keep his memory alive — through other people and their actions, what they do and how they feel. Who knows what that ripple effect is? It doesn’t always take an army. Sometimes it just takes one thing to make a difference for an individual.”