Spirit of Youth inspires greatness

By Greg Lincoln 

Spirit of Youth inspires greatness

February 5, 2014 | Volume 16, Issue 6

There are several nominations to the Spirit of Youth program featuring our youth from the YK delta region and our neighboring areas. Spirit of Youth accepts nominations of youth who deserve recognition for the positive contributions they are making across Alaska. Each year, an awards banquet is held honoring two finalists in each of 11 categories. This year the awards will be given on Saturday, April 5 in Anchorage. Here are the nominations that will be up for awards:

Fine Arts

Michael Bialy, Emily Berryman, Tony Boyer and Tandy Vangtan created the Bethel PRIDE dance group last summer after the AK PRIDE troupe from Anchorage performed in Bethel. The group is dedicated to bringing their community together through artistic expression. This team of self-motivated teens spent a summer fundraising, recruiting and defining what Bethel PRIDE is all about so their new tradition can spread to other rural parts of Alaska.

Service to Peers

The Bethel Regional High School Student Council led a peer-to-peer advocacy and outreach effort to increase college access in their schools as part of the national Get Schooled Future Forward Challenge. The Student Council helped the student body engage in a variety of activities dealing with college exploration. By the end of the year, more than 80 percent of the graduating class had applied to college or vocational school and had completed the FAFSA.

Service to Community

Tyrel and Eric Gusty are active community members in the small town of Stony River. They deliver lunches every school day to the town elders and plan community parties during the holidays. They also assist in the town’s student-run grocery store.

Overcoming Challenges

Camilla Grace Atti’s family of Eagle River (formerly Bethel) has fostered more than 50 children in their home and she has been a positive role model for them. Her recent experience of moving from Bethel to Eagle River has challenged her to become a confident young woman.

Cultural Pursuits

The Iditarod School District students in the Upper Kuskokwim Region created sets for, wrote and performed a musical based on the first sighting of an airplane in the Upper Kuskokwim Region. The students are from four widely separated communities — Holy Cross, Takotna, McGrath and Nikolai.

Service to Young Children

The Math Science Expedition Leadership Team of Aniak are key organizers in a 10-day wilderness trip for local youth. The team heads the expedition and teaches most of the math, fish biology and leadership activities to the younger students.

Science and the Environment

Shanelle Afcan from Nunam Iqua began an initiative at Mount Edgecumbe High School to get local seafood into the school meal program. She created an outreach campaign to educate students on the importance of local eating. Once local food was secured in her own school she took her campaign to the 2013 legislative session to further educate Alaskans about food security and preserving culture.

Technology and Media

Togiak School Upward Bound Group created a powerful peer-to-peer message promoting helmet use while on snow machines and ATVs. This group of rural Alaskans had the challenge of working remotely, yet they were able to submit drafts, conduct surveys and gather data.

Good job everyone!

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