Farmington Optimists present leadership awards to local seniors

The Farmington/Farmington Hills Optimist Club on Wednesday gave five Farmington area high school seniors an award that comes with one string attached.

The Club’s annual Leadership Awards, typically presented to juniors in the spring, provide students $250 for a project within their school community. The honorees then come back as seniors to talk about what they did with the funds.

Jon Aldred for Farmington Hills City Council

With the spring awards ceremony cancelled by COVID-19, the Optimists presented awards to these seniors via Zoom on Wednesday:

Optimist Leadership Awards
Students honored Wednesday include (clockwise from top left): Maleeha Shah, Trevor Mell, Terrance Bartell, and Dalia Housey. (Not pictured: Sarah Tillander)

Farmington High School: Maleeha Shah

Assistant Principal Lawrence Stroughter said Shah’s activities have included the school’s PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association), Oakland County Foster Closet, Farmington Community Library, and more. Shah volunteered for the FHS Popsicles & Popcorn event to welcome former Harrison High School students, even though she was among those new Falcons.

“She is often the first to raise her hand for opportunities to show leadership throughout the school and community,” Stroughter said. “She has done above and beyond what anybody would expect of an outstanding student.”

Farmington Central High School: Trevor Mell

When school staff talked about who should receive the Leadership Award, Principal David Reese said, the choice seemed clear cut. A member of the Student Roundtable, Mell is the “trusted voice of the school”, often the first to volunteer, and easily rallies his peers around a project or cause.

“Leadership and service is part of his DNA,” Reese said. “He steps in and makes sure we have a good school environment.”

Flex Tech High School: Sarah Tillander

Principal Kim Olson said Tillander came to the school shy and keeping mostly to herself, and “it’s amazing to our staff to see how much she has blossomed.” She is a member of the yearbook staff, leads the school’s Dungeons and Dragons Club, and helped get the school’s debate club off the ground.

“Her voice is often heard constantly trying to figure out what can we do,” Olson said. “She’s just an outstanding person who wants everyone to feel welcome and included.”

Mercy High School: Dalia Housey

Housey has held leadership positions at Mercy since her freshman year, Principal Pat Sattler said. Even after suffering a knee injury, she volunteered to attend a last-minute student leadership conference, and has demonstrated a positive attitude as the school has moved into a hybrid model due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“She’s just a creative, out-of-the-box thinker,” Sattler said. “I just can’t say enough about how Dalia has motivated our students and staff.”

North Farmington High School: Terrance Bartell

Bartell was junior class president when North Farmington closed in March due to COVID-19, and his classmates elected him senior class president for this school year, “a testament to his leadership,” Principal Joe Greene said. He organized a traditional sunrise photo at the start of school and helped resolve differences during a unity week among all three FPS high schools.

“I think Terrance has been a calming presence and an understanding presence through all this,” Greene said. “He’s taken such good care of his peers.”

Superintendent Bob Herrera thanked the Optimists for recognizing student leaders, and said students’ continued positive attitude “says a lot about your capacity and your character. You make Farmington great.”

The Optimists will present another round of awards to juniors in spring 2021. To learn more about the club, visit

CorrectionTrevor Mell’s last name was misspelled in the original version of this post. 

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