Students Named for Prudential Spirit of Community Award
By Anne Gilmore
Communications Team, KSDE
TOPEKA – February 26, 2009 – Matthew Heck of Wichita and Katie Vahle of Mission Hills were named Kansas’ top two youth volunteers for 2009 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.
The awards program, conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), is in its 14th year. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represent the United States’ largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service.
Matthew Heck, a senior at Wichita High School East, was selected after organizing a two-week, 1,300-mile relay run from Wichita to Washington, D.C., that promoted public awareness of genocide and raised more than $25,000 for the Genocide Intervention Network. Katie Vahle, a fifth-grader at Belinder Elementary School, also received top honors for co-organizing a festival to educate the public about service animals and raised $5,000 for KSDS, Inc., a service dog organization.
State Honorees each will receive $1,000, a 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 several days of national recognition events. Ten of them will be named America’s top youth volunteers for 2009.
In addition, program judges recognized four other Kansas students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Joanna Behrman of Wichita High School East, Aubrey Ireland of Blue Valley North High School, Sahdia Khan of Wichita High School East, and Lucy O’Connor of Shawnee Mission East High School were awarded bronze medallions for their volunteer work.
For more information about this year’s Prudential Spirit of Community State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists, visit http://spirit.prudential.com or www.principals.org/prudential.
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