Ten middle level and high school students from across the country were named Americas top youth volunteers of 2013 today by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards during the programs 18th annual national award ceremony at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The National Honorees range in age from 12 to 17. These 10 students were selected first from a field of more than 28,000 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. These 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 the top two youth volunteers from each state to Washington, D.C., with their parents, to be recognized for their exemplary community service. 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 Kevin Spacey and Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix last night at a gala dinner reception at the Smithsonians National Museum of Natural History. Each State Honoree received a $1,000 award.
The 10 National Honorees named today are:
Allyson Ahlstrom, 17, of Santa Rosa, Calif., a senior at Cardinal Newman High School, who created a full-service clothing boutique that has allowed 250 girls in need to each pick out two brand-new outfits for free over the past three years.
Emma Astrike-Davis, 16, of Durham, N.C., a junior at Cary Academy, who founded a program five years ago that has recruited hundreds of students in several schools to create more than 1,000 pieces of art for terminally ill patients in hospice centers, nursing homes and VA hospitals.
Zachary Certner, 17, of Morristown, N.J., a junior at Morristown High School, who co-founded a nonprofit organization that conducts free sports clinics for children with special needs, along with sensitivity training to help other students understand the challenges they face.
Michael-Logan Jordan, 14, of Kailua, Hawaii, an eighth-grader at Kailua Intermediate School, who has donated all of his birthday gifts for the past eight years to children in need; collected Christmas cards, clothing and other items for wounded soldiers; and raised more than $10,000 for the National Arthritis Foundation.
Erica LeMere, 14 of Shreveport, La. an eighth-grader at Caddo Parish Middle Magnet School, who founded “Erica’s Wish,” a nonprofit foundation that has donated more than $5,000 worth of clothing, books and other items to young patients at a local psychiatric facility.
Louie McGee, 12, of St. Paul, Minn., a sixth-grader at Highland Catholic School, who leads a team that has raised more than $40,000 over the past six years by participating in an annual fundraising walk to fight diseases that cause blindness, like the one that afflicts him.
Virginia Newsome, 17, of Lexington, Ky., a senior at Lafayette High School, who created a nonprofit organization in 2011 that has donated $50,000 worth of visual and performing arts supplies to schools that cannot afford them.
Teagan Stedman, 13, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., a seventh-grader at Harvard-Westlake School, who organized a series of music events and other activities that raised more than $70,000 for pediatric cancer research.
Cassie Wang, 17, of Lenexa, Kan., a senior at Olathe Northwest High School, who leveraged her golf skills to raise money for the rebuilding of homes and businesses in Joplin, Mo. after the devastating tornado that struck that city in 2011, and then chaired three blood drives in her community and launched a student-run nonprofit to benefit disaster victims both in Joplin and in China.
Joshua Williams, 12, of Miami Beach, Fla., a seventh-grader at Ransom Everglades School, who created a foundation that has distributed more than 475,000 pounds of food to families in need throughout South Florida.
We commend these honorees not only for the impact of their service and their spirit of giving, but also for inspiring others to consider that they can make a difference, too, said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. We congratulate this extraordinary group of youth volunteers.
These students are fine examples of what is possible when young people roll up their sleeves and commit themselves to helping others, said Denise Greene-Wilkinson, president of NASSP. They have learned early that their contributions can make a real difference, and there is no limit to the great things they can achieve.
The distinguished selection committee that chose the National Honorees was chaired by Strangfeld and included Greene-Wilkinson of NASSP; Michelle Nunn, CEO of the Points of Light Institute and co-founder of HandsOn Network; Donald T. Floyd, Jr., president and CEO of the National 4-H Council; Jaclyn E. Libowitz, chief administrative officer for Girl Scouts of the USA; James E. Starr, vice president for volunteer management for the American Red Cross; Scott Richardson, research analyst for the Corporation for National and Community Service; Dru Tomlin, director of middle level services for the Association for Middle Level Education; Kate Blosveren, associate director for strategic initiatives for Achieve, Inc.; Renee Jackson, manager of school relations and diversity at the National PTA; and two 2012 National Honorees: Neha Gupta, a junior at Pennsbury High School in Fairless Hills, Pa., and Jordyn Schara, a senior at Reedsburg Area High School in Reedsburg, Wis.
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 as well. In the past 18 years, the program has honored more than 100,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.
NASSP (National Association of Secondary School Principals) 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 38 countries around the world. The association provides research-based professional development and resources, networking, and advocacy to build the capacity of middle level and high school leaders to continually improve student performance. Reflecting its longstanding commitment to student leadership development as well, 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.
Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Prudentials 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., Prudentials iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century. For more information, please visit http://www.news.prudential.com/
[Editors: For full-color pictures of the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions, click here: http://bit.ly/Xi4oFW. For digital photos of the National Honorees, contact Prudentials Harold Banks at (973) 802-8974 or (973) 216-4833.]