Ann Arbor and Spring Lake students earn $1,000 awards, engraved
medallions and trip to nation’s capital
Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Ludington, Rockford,
Detroit, Wheeler, Grand Blanc, La Salle, Spring Lake and Rochester Hills
LANSING, Mich.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Dale (Trip) Apley, 16, of Ann Arbor and Aubrey Cohoon, 12, of Spring
Lake today were named Michigan’s top two youth volunteers of 2016 by The
Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring
young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. Trip was nominated by
Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, and Aubrey was nominated by Spring
Lake Intermediate School in Spring Lake. The Prudential Spirit of
Community Awards, now in its 21st year, is conducted by Prudential
Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary
School Principals (NASSP).
Trip, a junior at Skyline High School, spearheaded an all-school
fundraising drive to provide 18,000 bottles of water to children in
Flint in September after the state announced the city’s water was
contaminated with dangerous levels of lead. For more than five years,
Trip has been involved in monitoring the water quality of streams and
rivers in his area, efforts that have earned him an appointment to the
youth council of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “Water
quality monitoring and revitalization of watersheds is my passion,” said
Trip. That’s why he knew he had to do something when he learned that an
entire community had water that was unsafe to drink. “To me this was a
crisis,” said Trip. “Flint is an economically disadvantaged area, and is
the last community that can afford to switch to bottled water.”
Trip contacted the United Way and the Flint School District to determine
the best way to proceed. He then asked his principal for permission to
raise money at school. With additional help from friends and family,
Trip collected $1,500 to buy bottled water for the children of Flint.
Trip said he recognizes that his donation of water will not cure what
ails the city’s water supply, and he intends to work toward a long-term
solution. “In the near future, I intend to be part of a solution to
legislatively revitalize and monitor water systems in economically
disadvantaged areas like Flint,” he said.
Aubrey, a sixth-grader at Spring Lake Intermediate School, has helped
grant wishes to three sick children and their families over the past two
years by raising more than $30,000 for Make-A-Wish Michigan. Aubrey got
involved with giving to others after she received so many gifts on her
7th birthday that she felt “overwhelmed.” For subsequent birthdays,
Aubrey asked for donations to a designated local cause instead of
presents she didn’t need. A few years later, she began researching the
Make-A-Wish Foundation, met with its Michigan chapter, and decided she
wanted to raise money exclusively for that organization.
Since then, Aubrey’s year-round efforts have gained her recognition as a
prolific Make-A-Wish fund-raiser. She formed a team for the annual Walk
for Wishes, ran in a 5K, bussed tables at a local restaurant in exchange
for donations to Make-A-Wish, and sold bracelets at a car show and a
neighborhood stand. She also arranged to hold activity nights and
special dress-up days at her school to raise money, and recruited local
businesses to help as well. “It makes me feel so good to do what I am
doing,” said Aubrey. “So many people have been impacted, but most
importantly, I do it for the wish kids.”
As State Honorees, Trip and Aubrey each will receive $1,000, an engraved
silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to
Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees from each of
the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national
recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s
top youth volunteers of 2016.
The program judges also recognized eight other Michigan students as
Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service
activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are Michigan’s Distinguished Finalists for 2016:
Cameron Doan, 18, of Ludington, Mich., a senior at Ludington High
School, founded “A Bedroom of Their Own” in 2012 and has since raised
$2,100 in donations to renovate the bedrooms of seven children in need.
Cameron, who partnered with an organization that helps provide those in
need with furniture and basic necessities, renovates each room based on
what is needed, including drywall replacement and repair, painting, new
floor or door installation, and new bedding and window treatments.
Nicholas Ignatoski, 18, of Rockford, Mich., a senior at Rockford
High School, is the co-president of “Developing Healthy Kids,” a peer
listening group at his school that has helped almost 50 students who
have dealt with mental health issues by providing them a safe and
confidential support system. In his role, Nicholas helps to plan and
coordinate awareness and educational events to help kids and parents
better identify warning signs and learn how best to help their loved
Anaya Johnson, 17, of Detroit, Mich., a member of the Girl Scouts
of Southeastern Michigan and a senior at Detroit Country Day School,
founded the “Angel Movement,” a social media project intended to
encourage youth to come together to make healthy and positive changes.
Anaya launched the project in December 2014 to spread her positive
messages, and is currently planning a series of special events for youth
to join together for education, awareness and service.
Claire Laurenz, 17, of Wheeler, Mich., a senior at Breckenridge
High School, is training a puppy to become a service dog through the
organization Paws with a Cause. Claire, who began training the puppy in
June 2015 and will return it to the organization after one year, acts as
the sole caretaker, attends obedience classes and takes the puppy with
her everywhere as part of its training.
Anisha Nagpal, 17, of Grand Blanc, Mich., a senior at Grand Blanc
High School, helped create and coordinate “The Pink Flamingo Project,”
which raised $6,721 for Hurley Children’s Hospital by placing pink
plastic flamingos on the lawns of nominated families who then made
donations to have the flamingos removed. Anisha and her fellow students,
who originally developed the project as a final assignment for an AP
Macroeconomics class, donated the funds to the hospital to purchase a
video game console for the pediatric oncology unit.
Grant Prater, 17, of La Salle, Mich., a junior at Monroe High
School, spearheaded the creation of a clothing closet at his former
middle school to store donated clothes, coats, hats and gloves for
students in need, eliminating the school’s prior method of keeping the
donated clothing in trash bags. Grant, who worked with school officials
and fellow student volunteers to convert a former school storage room,
secured donated fixtures from a local retail store, laid new carpet, and
painted and designed the “Trojan Outfitters” clothing closet to resemble
a shop to preserve the dignity of those who received the donations.
Jasmine Sutton, 13, of Spring Lake, Mich., an eighth-grader at
Lakeshore Middle School, has been an active volunteer for the senior
residence Sanctuary at the Shore since she was 5 years old. Jasmine, who
has also raised $418 by selling homemade bracelets to support a local
food truck that feeds the hungry, assists the residents during events
and activities and helps distribute mail and newspapers.
Caroline Wallis, 17, of Rochester Hills, Mich., a senior at
Berean Homeschool Academy, has trained two puppies to become assistance
pets with the organization Leader Dogs for the Blind. Caroline, who
began training in 2011, is responsible for training the puppies and
providing for them for an entire year before they are returned to be
placed with an individual in need.
“Prudential commends each of these young volunteers for using their
creativity and compassion to bring positive change to their
communities,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “We hope
their stories inspire others to consider how they can make a difference,
“We are pleased to honor these students not only for their exemplary
acts of service, but for the powerful example they’ve set for their
peers,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP.
“Congratulations to each of the 2016 honorees.”
About The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represents the United States’
largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service. All
public and private middle level and high schools in the country, as well
as all Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross
chapters, YMCAs and HandsOn Network affiliates, were eligible to select
a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award.
These Local Honorees were then reviewed by an independent judging panel,
which selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists based on
criteria including personal initiative, effort, impact and personal
While in Washington, D.C., the 102 State Honorees – one middle level and
one high school student from each state and the District of Columbia –
will tour the capital’s landmarks, meet top youth volunteers from other
parts of the world, attend a gala awards ceremony at the Smithsonian’s
National Museum of Natural History, and visit their congressional
representatives on Capitol Hill. On May 2, 10 of the State Honorees –
five middle level and five high school students – will be named
America’s top youth volunteers of 2016. These National Honorees will
receive additional $5,000 awards, gold medallions, crystal trophies and
$5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable
organizations of their choice.
Since the program began in 1995, more than 115,000 young volunteers have
been honored at the local, state and national level. The program also is
conducted by Prudential subsidiaries in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan,
Ireland, India, China and Brazil. In addition to granting its own
awards, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program also
distributes President’s Volunteer Service Awards to qualifying Local
Honorees on behalf of President Barack Obama.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the
leading organization of and voice for middle level and high school
principals, assistant principals, and school leaders from across the
United States and 35 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.
About Prudential Financial
Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader, has
operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.
Prudential’s diverse and talented employees are committed to helping
individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth
through a variety of products and services, including life insurance,
annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds and investment
management. In the U.S., Prudential’s iconic Rock symbol has stood for
strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century.
For more information, please visit www.news.prudential.com.
Editors: For full-color pictures of the Spirit of Community Awards
program logo and medallions, click here: http://bit.ly/Xi4oFW
Harold Banks, (973) 802-8974 or (973) 216-4833