For community service initiatives that range from feeding the hungry to helping victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, 10 students were named Americas top youth volunteers of 2014 today by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a national program sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
These National Honorees, named during the programs 19th annual national award ceremony at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, range in age from 11 to 18. They were selected first from a field of more than 30,000 middle level and high school youth volunteers nationwide, and then from 102 State Honorees, based on their initiative, effort, impact, and the personal growth demonstrated in the course of their volunteer service. The National Honorees each received $5,000 personal awards, engraved gold medallions, crystal trophies for their schools, and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for charities of their choice.
Todays ceremony was part of a four-day celebration that brought each states top two youth volunteers of 2014 to Washington, D.C., for sightseeing and special recognition events. These 102 State Honorees one middle level and one high school student from each state and the District of Columbia were personally congratulated by Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker last night at a gala dinner reception at the Smithsonians National Museum of Natural History. Each State Honoree received a $1,000 award.
These are the 10 National Honorees named today:
Jessica Bird, 18, of Atherton, Calif., a senior at Sacred Heart Preparatory, is a dedicated advocate for young sex-trafficking victims around the world, and last year led a team to Costa Rica to provide girls at a safe house with the skills to build a life outside of prostitution.
Lillian Diuble, 11, of Manchester, Mich., a sixth-grader at Manchester Middle School, leads a team that has raised more than $78,000 over the past four years for the Foundation Fighting Blindness, which is devoted to developing treatments and cures for eye diseases like the one affecting Lillian.
Sean Egan, 18, of Staten Island, N.Y., a senior at Monsignor Farrell High School, founded an organization of more than 300 students who assist and thank veterans of the U.S. armed forces by sponsoring events, providing goods and services, and visiting military hospitals.
Elijah Evans, 16, of Youngsville, La., a sophomore at Comeaux High School, works in his community to raise awareness of child abuse and improve the lives of foster children by promoting and hosting an annual Christmas party for children in foster care.
Kaylee Graham, 14, of Florence, Ore., an eighth-grader at Siuslaw Middle School, initiated an annual citywide day of service in her town that has motivated more than 3,000 residents to work on community improvement projects, raise money for charity, donate food, and take part in other volunteer activities over the past three years.
Morgan Guess, 11, of Paducah, Ky., a fifth-grader at Lone Oak Intermediate School, has worked with her mother to focus local, state and national attention on the problem of bullying through a variety of measures, after Morgan herself was bullied.
William Lourcey, 11, of Fort Worth, Texas, a volunteer ambassador with the Volunteer Center of North Texas and a fifth-grader at Trinity Valley School, is the founder and CEO of a service group that organizes fun events to raise money and awareness to fight hunger, and to encourage young people to get involved in their community.
Kinsey Morrison, 17, of Goshen, Ky., a senior at St. Francis High School, is a motivational speaker whos delivered more than 50 speeches on a variety of topics and helped raise a significant amount of money for dozens of charities.
Katie Stagliano, 15, of Summerville, S.C., a freshman at Pinewood Preparatory School, established a nonprofit organization that has helped kids across the country create and maintain more than 60 vegetable gardens, which have yielded thousands of pounds of fresh produce to feed people in need.
Michael Stolzenberg, 14, of Weston, Fla., an eighth-grader at Pine Crest School, has raised more than $225,000 to help rebuild the lives of people who lost limbs when terrorists detonated two bombs during the 2013 Boston Marathon.
These honorees are shining examples of what is possible when young people use their energy and initiative to help their communities, said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. We are proud to recognize their accomplishments, and look forward to seeing the great things they achieve in the future.
Through their service, these students have not only made a difference in the lives of others theyve provided their peers with a powerful example of what it looks like to be an outstanding youth volunteer, said Barbara-Jane (BJ) Paris, president of NASSP. Congratulations to each of the 2014 honorees for a job well done.
The distinguished selection committee that chose the National Honorees was chaired by Strangfeld and included Paris of NASSP; Tracy Hoover, president of Points of Light; Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO of the National 4-H Council; Andrea Bastiani Archibald, chief girl expert for Girl Scouts of the USA; James E. Starr, vice president for volunteer management for the American Red Cross; Robert Bisi, senior marketing specialist for the Corporation for National and Community Service; Dru Tomlin, director of middle level services for the Association for Middle Level Education; André Wesson, senior program associate for strategic communications, outreach and development for Achieve; Reneé Jackson, senior manager of education programs at the National PTA; and two 2013 National Honorees: Emma Astrike-Davis of Durham, N.C., a senior at Cary Academy, and Joshua Williams of Miami Beach, Fla., an eighth-grader at Ransom Everglades School.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards was created in 1995 to identify and recognize young people for outstanding volunteer service and, in so doing, inspire others to volunteer, too. In the past 19 years, the program has honored more than 100,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and all school leaders from across the United States and more than 36 countries around the world. The association connects and engages school leaders through advocacy, research, education, and student programs. NASSP advocates on behalf of all school leaders to ensure the success of each student and strengthens school leadership practices through the design and delivery of high quality professional learning experiences. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Association of Student Councils. For more information about NASSP, located in Reston, VA, visit www.nassp.org.
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[Editors: For full-color pictures of the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions, visit http://spirit.prudential.com. For digital photos of the National Honorees, contact Prudentials Harold Banks at (973) 802-8974 or (973) 216-4833.]