Missouri Students Named as Prudential Spirit of Community Award Winners


Two students from Missouri are among a select group named as the nation’s top youth volunteers in the 2016 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. The awards are designed to spotlight the importance of volunteerism in America and to encourage all young people to contribute to their communities.

Brooke Hale of Forsyth and Kera Mingus of Kirbyville are this year’s top Missouri youth volunteers. Each has received a $1,000 award and will travel to Washington, D.C., April 30-May 3.

Brooke, a senior at Forsyth High School, is being honored as the co-founder and executive director of a free after-school arts program that offers weekly classes in musical theatre to elementary and middle school students. About 70 students have participated over the past four years.

Kera, a 7th grader at Forsyth Middle School, raised more than $11,000 during the first three years of her fundraising campaign to find a cure for juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM), a rare autoimmune disease that attacks muscles and skin. Kera worked with a local mini-golf course to launch a yearly tournament as a fundraiser.

Brooke and Kera have a shot at national honors during the events in Washington, D.C. The national honorees will receive additional $5,000 awards and $5,000 grants for the charitable organizations of their choice.

Six other Missouri students have been recognized as Distinguished Finalists:

  • Crystal Diebold, senior, Eldon High School.
  • Taylor Lauer, senior, Montgomery County High School in Jonesburg.
  • Kelly Nguyen, senior, East High School in Kansas City.
  • Chance Riddle, junior, Warrensburg High School.
  • Yumino Sasaki, senior, Brentwood High School.
  • Tyler Swearingen, senior, Skyline High School in Urbana.

“Congratulations to all of these students,” said Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. “We are proud of the selfless example they set for others.”

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards were created in 1995 in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). Since then, more than 115,000 young volunteers have been honored at the local, state and national level.