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Young achievers honored

From left, Megan Vondette, Stefan Hubble, Scott Cousino, Matt Winkler, and Abbey Reinke are recognized by CAYA. Photos by Mary Keck (click for larger version)
May 02, 2012 - The Independence Township community took great pride in their young volunteers on April 25 during the Clarkston Area Youth Assistance (CAYA) recognition ceremony. Kids of all ages were nominated for their volunteerism, academic achievement, and citizenship.

CAYA Vice President Anita Demster wasn't wrong when she said, "These kids have done spectacular things!"

Thirteen-year-old Mary Kate McKillop volunteered for SCAMP last summer, and Stefan Hubble, a senior at Clarkston High, served as a leader during St. Daniel Parish's Vacation Bible School. Others like Nicholas Verhelle spend their time helping out on the Service Squad at Springfield Plains.

Over 70 students were recognized for "stepping forward in positive ways without ever wondering 'what's in it for me?'" noted Kathryn McVean, the CAYA office administrator.

Some like Ciniah Smith were as young as 6 years old. She helps her classmates clean up and understand assignments. Ten-year-old Jackson Bean spends extra time with a troubled first grader and helps to guide him to make good choices.

Among the honorees were Abbey Reinke, Megan Vondette, Matt Winkler, and Scott Cousino who were nominated for providing over 100 hours of volunteer service as camp counselors at St. Daniel's Church camp. Students like Isabella Limbert help with kindergarten classes at Springfield Plains, and Martha Steupert and Kari Ormsby volunteer as tutors at the CAYA Homework Club. As Fifth Grade Flag Raisers, Drew Stark, Emma Covey, John Chrisekos, and Megan Ford demonstrate a sense of pride daily by raising and lowering the U.S. and Michigan State flags at Andersonville Elementary.

Students who were recognized received a certificate and shook hands with CAYA's honored leaders, which included school board members Superintendent Rod Rock, President Cheryl McGinnis, Trustee Joan Patterson, and Treasurer Steve Hyer; and Township Council members Curt Carson, Barbara Pallotta, David Lohmeier along with Clarkston High School Principal Gary Kaul.

Of the students recognized, Pallotta said, "they're a good example of the quality of students who are being nurtured by Clarkston Schools and their parents."

CAYA has been serving the community for fifty-one years. Along with the recognition ceremony, they develop other programs for young people in Clarkston such as camping, after school, scholarship, mentoring, and family education programs. They also try to help struggling kids who are referred by their caseworker "make the most of their school experience," Demster explained.

CAYA's next event is a Golf Outing planned for Friday, June 15 at 8 a.m.

Clarkston News reporter
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