St. Jude the Apostle eighth grade students Nora Parsons and Liam Riley received the Women of St. Jude Christian Awards in May.

The $2,000 awards, which will be put towards each student’s high school tuition, recognize Christian values, strength of character, and involvement in church, school and community activities. All eighth grade students in the parish were eligible for the awards. Applicants submitted essays, references and a profile of their activities and service projects.

Nora, the oldest of two children, has attended St. Jude since 4K. She said she has loved her time there and is grateful for the supportive, caring environment she received there. She points to teachers who help students grow and get out of their comfort zone, empowering them to become the best versions of themselves. The school has been an environment where Nora thrived. “You can be yourself. I’ve made so many great friends there, and the academics are really great too.”

Outside of school, Nora plays volleyball, participates in Irish dance, and is a Girl Scout. Her troop hosts numerous fundraisers, including car washes and rummage sales, in order to give back to the local community.

Nora is looking forward to attending Divine Savior Holy Angels school in the fall. She started attending summer camps there in middle school, and hopes to participate in stage crew and robotics.

Nora’s parents, Jonathan and Brenda, are very proud of Nora and her many accomplishments. “She’s special in a lot of different ways. She works really hard at her school work. She’s a caring daughter and conscientious about things going on in the community.”

Liam, the middle of three children, joined the St. Jude school community midway through the second grade. Though a change during a school year is never easy, seeing how welcoming everyone was and how amazing the teachers were made everything fall into place. “The teachers are always ready to help whenever I need and the students are all really nice.”

Liam volunteers at the school thrift shop each Wednesday, and is constantly on the lookout for other special projects to help those in need — such as operating scoreboards for the Special Olympics tournaments, assisting at a homeless shelter, or visiting a neighbor whose children have special needs to help out. He does this in addition to his numerous school and extracurricular commitments — he is a four-sport athlete (lacrosse, volleyball, baseball, basketball), an honor roll student, musician, and Boy Scout. Liam will attend Marquette University High School in the fall, where he hopes to both grow his current interests and expand into more activities — especially engineering and science.

“He always finds a way to look out for people that are just less fortunate.”

Liam’s parents, Jason and Christine, feel “extremely honored” that Liam was chosen. They explained the eighth grade class at St. Jude’s is “a fantastic group of kids,” each involved in service in their own way. They explained that service started at a young age with Liam. “We’d go to a playground. Even when he was like three, four or five, he’d always (want) to befriend others, you know, who maybe weren’t playing with someone else and he just kind of, he did that, he does the same thing … it really it comes easy to him, at least it appears to — being friends with all different types of people and making them feel better about themselves.”

Nora Parsons

Liam Riley