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Rotary Student of the Month Klair Becker puts family first

Attending a recent Rotary Club meeting were, left to right, Linda Becker (Klair's mother), Klair Becker, Hastings High School counselor Melissa Bezotte, Kellie Becker, Rotary Club president Ann Sheridan and Rotary Club board member John Hanson. (Star Gazette photo by Jane Lightbourn)

Hastings High School senior Klair Becker puts her family first. She spends many hours, several nights a week providing around-the clock care for her grandparents. She would not have it any other way.

Becker, who graduates this June, was recently honored as the April Rotary Club's Student of the Month.

Her nominator, Hastings High School counselor Melissa Bezotte, lauds Becker's accomplishments and what she is doing with her life.

Bezotte wrote: "Klair is, by any standards, an amazing student academically but what really stands out about Klair is her passion to put others' needs above her own. Klair has spent countless hours doing community service work and teaching classes through her church organization.

"Her greatest contribution, though, has been the time she spends caring for her own aging grandparents. Two years ago when her grandma broke her hip and her grandpa was diagnosed with terminal cancer, her immediate family rallied around the situation and has been providing 24 hour care since. Klair has three evening/ overnight shifts per week from 5 p.m. to 6 a.m. where she cooks, cleans, bathes and provides 100 percent care for both grandparents.

 "I have yet to meet a teen who would sacrifice so much of her life and time to care for a family member. The fact that she does this while still maintaining a 4.0 GPA is amazing to me."

Becker said being named Student of the Month was a great honor, but it also was big surprise.

"Prior to receiving this award, I thought that student of the month was for people who are greatly involved in their school while still maintaining their A+ grades in school," she said. "I knew I had the academic part down, but I am not involved in any school activities. Rather I have spent my time elsewhere to serve others, which is what this award is truly about."

Her grandparents have always been a very important part of her life, said Becker. She remembers "looking forward to the fresh-baked cookies from grandma and the grand tour of the farm via the trailer pulled behind my grandpa's three wheeler when I visited. Thanks to them, I have countless happy childhood memories that many kids aren't as fortunate to have with their grandparents," she said.

But things changed in their lives two years ago.

"It is now time for me to return the favor and show my gratitude for all those memories by giving them some of my own time," said Becker.

Initially, Becker and her sister Kellie moved into their grandparents' house to help her grandmother any way they could.

"It was the right thing to do," said Becker.

When school started again in the fall, her grandmother had recovered and Becker moved back into her home in Hastings.

About a month later, Becker moved back in with her grandparents. Her grandfather had developed a variety of health issues and putting him into a nursing home was not an option for the family.

Her grandfather depends entirely on help from others and Becker is usually at her grandparents' house five to seven days a week, helping to provide that care.

"Given a situation like this, one is forced to look at it one of two ways; either you can view it as 'Geez, I wonder how many people my age are spending this much of their busy schedule to help their grandparents,' or more like 'I wonder how many teenagers have the blessing of being able to say that they have a bond that is strong enough to want to help them out in any way possible.'" Becker believes the latter is true.

"It may not always be a basket of roses, but is truly considered a blessing," she said. "Watching my grandpa slowly slip away has been the biggest challenge of my life, but it is a challenge that I must take head on."

Becker plans to attend Inver Hills Community College in the fall to complete her general courses. She then plans to transfer to Colorado State University in Fort Collins to obtain a degree in Equine Sciences. She envisions setting up a horse facility of her own.