“When I saw my parents I got the strange feeling I might be it,” Westerhoff said. “My parents were sitting there smiling, and they were just looking at Mr. Breen. It was a strange feeling to think I might be student of the month.”
Though it might have been initially a surprise to Chase, students and teachers who know him had plenty of reasons to suspect he might be the fifth grade student of month. He has a reputation for being focused on his goals and willing to work hard to reach them.
It was this hard work approach that led to his selection by fifth grade teachers Julie Boes and Karen Ryder. According to Ryder, Chase is serious about school.
“Chase is always ready to get down to the business of learning,” Ryder said. “I ask my students to be in an attitude of learning, and Chase is that kid. He’s always ready to get to work, he tries his best even when material is hard, and he asks great questions.”
Ryder said another reason Chase was chosen was the way he treats others.
“Chase is always nice to peers and adults, which is really a treat,” Ryder said. “Chase gets along great with his peers, yet he doesn’t think he’s too cool to be nice to adults!”
Like many classmates and teammates on the Gobles fifth and sixth grade rocket football team, Chase loves sports. If his dreams come true, the young quarterback will play in the NFL. But if he doesn’t make the NFL, he already has a backup plan, and he’s already working on it.
“I know I have to work hard if I want to get into a good college,” he said. “And I want to go to the University of Michigan, because after that I’ll be able to get a good job. My parents told me if I want to be successful, I have to start when I’m young.”
Starting young has also included working with his father Bill on construction projects around the house. He worked with his father to build a kennel for the family dog, and has also worked on renovation projects, taking nails out, putting in drywall, and using the measuring tape to help his dad, who is a builder.
Chase credits his parents Jennifer and Bill Westerhoff for his work ethic and for teaching him to treat others with kindness and respect.
Chase also enjoys the activities and services on Sunday mornings at the Journey Church in Gobles. Even at church he has goals he’s working on, especially in the youth programs.
“My older brother Logan gets to work with the younger kids as a student leader in the middle school program,” Chase said. I am definitely looking forward to being a student leader so I can help out the younger kids, too.”
Chase enjoys school and works hard in all his classes, but thinks he might be best at math. He knows that it is the hard classes that will help him eventually get to his dream school The University of Michigan, so he’s willing to work hard for this goal.
“U of M is my favorite school, so I have to make sure I know everything my teachers want me to learn to go there,” he said. “By the time I get to the end of high school, there’s a lot I have to know. Like my parents told me, it’s good to start learning when you’re young.”
Chase’s parents got to sit and smile in the gym as their son was recognized as the fifth grade student of the month, a surprise to him at first, but clearly the result of hard work and a terrific attitude towards learning.