Students new to Wheat Middle School this year have a fellow “Wheatie” who can be counted on to make them feel welcome.
New student registration is taking place on all CISD campuses Wednesday, August 1 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Eighth grader Nick Earley is well known for his efforts to establish relationships with fellow students and teachers alike. He believes it’s his mission to make those new to the campus feel at home—at school--in a reflection of the WMS motto, “we are proud, we are family, we are Wheat.”
“I have a place in my heart for the new kid,” Earley said. “I was in elementary school when we moved halfway through the school year. I just sat there until someone came up and said ‘can I help you?’ I know what it feels like to be the kid at a new school.”
“When I find out it’s someone’s first day at our school, I’ll go up to them, shake their hand, make eye contact and if it’s a boy, invite them to sit with my friends in the cafeteria. With girls, I just help them around.”
Principal Suzi Keesee said it’s for this, and more, the Wheat faculty chose Earley to be the first recipient of a new award which will be presented annually to a student who reflects characteristics found in the Capturing Kids’ Hearts philosophy adopted by every CISD campus.
“We want to build Capturing Kids’ Hearts within our students,” Keesee said. “In discussing the criteria for this award, we decided we wanted to choose someone who takes peers under their wing, while also being of help to teachers. Nick was the obvious choice.”
“All I have to do is tell him we have a new kid at school and his immediate response is, ‘I’m on it—just point them out.’”
Earley claims that being a son of a Wheat teacher provides him with some added information and insight in achieving his mission.
“I know the school well, and where to get help,” he said. “One day we got to school really early on a day when the building was having issues with the power. I put my head lamp on and went looking for teachers to help. I gathered all the flashlights I could find, which really helped a lot until the lights came on.”
“I’m pretty much an anything, anytime, throw me in there, I’ll figure it out kind of kid,” Earley said. “I’m a natural helper. I’m good at adjusting to a situation or need. I think it’s made a difference in my life, being there to help others. It’s helped me get through middle school, which can be tough. You don’t always know where you belong.”
At the end of the year awards program, Earley experienced one of those “not sure where I belong” moments. The majority of the awards had been presented and his name was yet to be announced.
“I had received a letter saying I was getting award, but I wasn’t sure why,” he said. “They kept going through the list and my name was not getting called. At the end, they started describing a kid—and it sounded like me.”
“Then they called my name,” Earley said. “I had an instant battle of nerves because I really don’t like the limelight. But it actually was fun to be recognized. The next day I kept getting high fives and congratulations from kids I didn’t even know. Random guys came up to my table in the cafeteria. It was very humbling—I’ve never felt anything like it.”
Candiece Earley says her son has always had a big heart and goes out of his way to help others without being told.
“Several years ago, when we were living in Irving, the father of one of his classmates lost his job,” Candiece said. “Nick wanted to give him all his birthday money. He’s always had a big heart and wants to help. He always sees the kid who maybe falls between the cracks.”
“Nick does a lot of things that have made me ask ‘would I do that?’” she said. “Would I be that kind and compassionate? He has made me a better parent and person, in making me want to be that much stronger in my convictions.”
Earley is also a very busy student at Wheat. Last year he competed in cross country and football and was a member of the technical theater crew in UIL One Act Play. His summer activities have included STEM camp at Stephen F. Austin State University and Plaza Theatre Company’s Plaza Academy Summer Camp, where he performed in the production of “In the Heights.”
He will continue with a busy schedule in his last year of middle school, with plans to add track to compete in the javelin. His recent theater experience has him planning to audition for a stage role in Wheat’s upcoming performing arts productions.
A professed “science nerd,” Earley’s considering a career as a large animal vet—and now, an acting career on Broadway as a second option.
What he knows for certain is he will continue seeking ways to make a difference at Wheat Middle School.
“In being the first to get this award, I feel comes more responsibility to be a better student, which is good,” the 13-year-old said. “It’s important that people know I care, and that lots of people care about them. That will help them get through the school year.”
“I’ll see a kid and think, ‘I helped them,’” he said. “My entire goal in helping others is for them to know people care—that’s my reward. Knowing I maybe helped someone through a hard time makes me smile. I plan to continue this attitude when I get to high school—and into life.”
Eighth grader Nick Earley is committed to making students new to Wheat Middle School feel welcome. He is the first recipient of a new award presented by the faculty to a student who makes a difference at the campus in their relationships with peers and teachers.
Nick Earley is pictured with Wheat Middle School teachers Allyson House and Singleton following the presentation by the WMS faculty of the Capturing Kids' Hearts Award.