NASHVILLE, Tenn., Feb. 5, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Kennedy Musgrave, 17, of Nashville and Courtney Good, 12, of Kingsport today were named Tennessee’s top two youth volunteers of 2019 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. As State Honorees, Kennedy and Courtney 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 2019.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 24th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
These are Tennessee’s top youth volunteers of 2019:
High School State Honoree: Kennedy Musgrave
Nominated by Hillsboro High School
Kennedy, a senior at Hillsboro High School, plans and coordinates semi-monthly meetings and other activities at her school to provide encouragement and support to fellow black students who are enrolled, or planning to enroll, in the challenging International Baccalaureate program. By the end of Kennedy’s junior year, the number of African-Americans pursuing an IB diploma at Hillsboro High had plummeted from more than 50 to just three. “This wasn’t because of how challenging the classes were,” she said. Rather, it stemmed from a perception that IB courses are primarily for white students, and “an implicit bias that sets lower expectations for black students and discourages them from pursuing advanced academics.” Though Kennedy, too, found her involvement in the IB program isolating and mentally draining, she persevered and felt an obligation to assist others. “I did not want them to experience the isolation and questioning of self-worth that I had experienced,” she said.
So Kennedy conceived a program called “IB Achievers,” and hosted a four-hour orientation session to explain it to black students and their parents. Then she began conducting meetings twice a month to encourage the pursuit of an IB diploma, deal with hardships faced by minority students, and celebrate the students’ accomplishments. For one of the meetings each month, Kennedy invites black professionals to speak about how they overcame barriers to become successful. The other meeting addresses topics such as study skills, time management, building relationships with teachers, preparing for exams, and planning for college. Kennedy also organizes quarterly social activities to promote balance between studies and fun. “IB Achievers is more than just a program,” said Kennedy. “It’s a sign of hope that our generation has a light that will not be dimmed and a voice that will be heard.”
Middle Level State Honoree: Courtney Good
Nominated by Innovation Academy
Courtney, a sixth-grader at Innovation Academy, started collecting food for families tending to their hospitalized children when she was 3 years old, and recently began using her story of surviving an extremely premature birth to help the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) raise money for sick kids. Courtney weighed only 1-1/2 pounds when she was born 15 weeks prematurely. She spent the first four months of her life in a neonatal intensive care unit, and had to return to the hospital a few more times in the following years. Courtney recalled how her family had to spend Christmas in the hospital with her one year, and wanted to do something for other families in a similar situation. With her parents’ help, she came up with a plan for “Courtney’s Food Wagon,” and began collecting food donations so that families don’t have to leave the hospital to eat.
To promote her project, Courtney handed out fliers, participated in a parade, got her school involved and hosted a Facebook page. Every Christmas since, she has delivered pre-packaged food to the family kitchen of the pediatrics unit and NICU at the hospital where she was born. Because of her charitable work and her birth story, Courtney was selected to be a CMN ambassador last year. In that role, she has spoken at press conferences, appeared in advertisements and participated in fundraising events. In addition, her face has been featured throughout 22 Walmart stores, which have raised more than $220,000 for CMN. “I love that my story is helping to raise money for sick children,” said Courtney. “I hope that families with sick children can see how healthy I am now and it will give them hope.”
The program judges also recognized six other Tennessee students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are Tennessee’s Distinguished Finalists for 2019:
Therese Boling, 11, of Castalian Springs, Tenn., a fifth-grader at Union Elementary STEM and Demonstration School, partnered with Nashville’s Children Theatre to create “Let’s Run Kids,” a shoe drive for children in need in her local community. To help support her mission, Therese has also connected with local schools, churches and a soccer club, in hopes of providing children access to the shoes they need.
Christian Cate, 19, of Knoxville, Tenn., a senior at Christian Academy of Knoxville, founded an inner-city youth baseball camp, recruiting teen volunteers and youth coaches, securing equipment donations and designing camp activities for 25 players. Christian is also co-chair of the Senior Teen Board of Knoxville, leading 150 teenagers in volunteer projects serving area nonprofits from a children’s hospital to nursing homes and animal shelters.
Ella Delevante, 16, of Nashville, Tenn., a junior at Father Ryan High School, has dedicated hundreds of volunteer hours to advocating for and working with refugee families, including babysitting children while their parents attend English classes, tutoring students with interrupted formal education experiences, and helping organize a community coat drive. In the summer of 2017, Ella started “The Popsicle Club,” a program in which volunteers visit children in their homes, distributing 100 popsicles every Friday.
Rebecca Fisher, 18, of Knoxville, Tenn., a senior at Farragut High School, created and organizes “The Farragut Leadership Series,” a speaker series that invites community leaders to speak to teenage audiences about their professional path, as well as the importance of leadership and service. Rebecca has recruited several notable speakers to participate in this program, including the Knox County mayor, the University of Tennessee chancellor and the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Alice Grosserode, 18, of Johnson City, Tenn., a senior at Science Hill High School, helped plan and build a playground for the Family Promise Day Center, an organization that offers shelter, meals, case management and homelessness prevention services to families. During the two-year process, Alice applied for grants, secured approval from the city, connected with builders and even designed the sign for the playground.
Edwin Seagraves, 19, of Kingston Springs, Tenn., a senior at Harpeth High School, helped raise $1,600 to finance a housing deposit for a friend with special needs whose family was facing eviction. An active member of his school’s Best Buddies and Special Olympics programs, Edwin was determined to help his “buddy” stay in a familiar school district, and raised enough money through social media campaigning in less than a week.
“These young volunteers learned and demonstrated that they can make meaningful contributions to individuals and communities through their service,” said Prudential CEO Charles Lowrey. “It’s an honor to recognize their great work, and we hope that shining a spotlight on their service inspires others to consider how they might make a difference.”
“Each of these honorees is proof that students have the energy, creativity and unique perspectives to create positive change,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. “We commend each of the 2019 honorees for their outstanding volunteer service, and for the invaluable example they’ve set for their peers.”
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 affiliates of Points of Light’s HandsOn Network, 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 growth.
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 6, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high school students – will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2019. 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 125,000 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.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and voice for principals and other school leaders across the United States. NASSP seeks to transform education through school leadership, recognizing that the fulfillment of each student’s potential relies on great leaders in every school committed to the success of each student. 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 Student Council. Learn more at 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.
For Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallion graphics, please visit https://spirit.prudential.com/resources/media
SOURCE Prudential Financial, Inc.