Michaela Kraut, a 2018 graduate of Amity Regional High School, is known for Irish Step Dancing her way around the community, brightening the day at senior citizen homes, veteran facilities and hospitals. One weekend a year, she can also be relied upon to volunteer in the Lions Club food tent at the Orange Country Fair. She spends her Election Days checking in voters at the town’s polling places. She volunteers because wants to, not because she has to.
Like most dads, Bill Kraut, chairman of the Orange Board of Education, thinks his daughter is pretty special. This summer, the Boston Red Sox found her to be pretty special too. Michaela was honored with a New England Red Sox Service Scholarship for $1,000 toward her tuition at the University of Rhode Island for her freshman year. Undecided between majoring in marketing and physical therapy, she’s taking classes for both. In addition to the scholarship, there was an added bonus: she, along with other honorees, were recognized at a Red Sox game and spent some time volunteering for the team’s foundation where she met David Ortiz, better known as Big Papi. “I was applying for scholarships in the winter of my senior year and my guidance counselor mentioned the Red Sox scholarship, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I didn’t think I would get it!” she says. “So, I did my resume, filled out the application and wrote an essay about community service and sent it in.”
In June she received a call on her cell phone from a number in Massachusetts that she did not recognize. “I was curious who it was, so I googled it and it was the Red Sox!” she says. “I’m a very proud dad, to say the least,” said Bill Kraut.
Michaela says, “We got two tickets to a game, we were on the field before the game and were on the jumbotron above the stadium. We received red bats and our New England service scholarships.” The day after the game, the group of about 20 honorees were asked to come back to work in the Fenway Victory Garden in Boston. “So, we were mulching, laying wood chips, weeding and picking up waste, so we did that for a while,” she jokes. Then the big surprise came: Big Papi’s visit.
“I was so excited. We’re big Red Sox fans. I have been since I was little,” she says. “So, he took a picture with the group, and then I asked him to take a picture with me and he did. And then I went back to cleaning up and that was it!”
In her essay, Michaela wrote, “I participate in community service for the enjoyment of being with other volunteers and being a part of something that will benefit someone else in need.” She more than doubled the 100 hours that Amity High School students are requested to do. “For me, it’s not about requirement,” she wrote. In addition to performing before senior citizens and veterans, she also participates in the Special Olympics each June.
“I volunteer to do this show every year and look forward to it every time because not only am I doing what I love by performing on stage and showcasing Irish Step Dancing, but making the competitors feel happy,” she wrote. “At the end of the show my dance teacher asks everyone to come up and dance with us. When they are with us, the smiles on their faces are priceless. They are so happy and having such a good time that it makes me happy to be able to provide a special moment for them.”
By Laura Fantarella – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent