Two Missouri students were named Missouri’s top youth volunteers for 2018 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring students for outstanding acts of volunteerism. Sophie Bernstein (Clayton) and Katelyn Ravasini (Lee’s Summit R-VII) will travel to Washington, D.C., in late April for the program’s national recognition events.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards are now in their 23rd year and are conducted in conjunction with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). Since their inception, more than 120,000 young volunteers have been honored at the local, state and national level.
“We are incredibly pleased that these two students will represent Missouri for their work within their local communities,” said interim Commissioner of Education Roger Dorson. “They went the extra mile to help those in need.”
Sophie, a senior at Clayton High School, planted more than 35 organic vegetable gardens at preschools and daycare centers in low-income areas and has conducted 175 workshops on plant science, cooking and nutrition to help financially struggling families make healthy food choices. She began by contacting hardware stores for building supplies and seedlings, gardening groups for advice, and high schools for volunteers. She also solicited donations from local gardening clubs and applied for grants to finance her raised gardens. Since she began, Sophie’s gardens have supplied more than 35,000 pounds of fresh produce for people in need in her community.
Katelyn, an eighth-grader at Bernard C. Campbell Middle School, organized a bowl-a-thon last year to raise money for multiple sclerosis research at an area hospital. After being challenged by an English teacher to do something to make a positive impact in the world, she immediately began thinking of ways to support her aunt, who had been diagnosed with MS. More than 100 bowlers participated in Katelyn’s bowl-a-thon, which allowed her to present $2,200 to the Kansas University Medical MS Achievement Center, where her aunt is currently undergoing treatment.
Six additional Missouri students were recognized as Distinguished Finalists:
- Hyun Bang, senior, Parkway West High School (Parkway C-2)
- Mary Hilton, senior, Visitation Academy, St. Louis
- Meagan Turner, senior, Lutheran High School, Foristell
- Raegan Weber, Grade 8, Lawson Middle School (Lawson R-XIV)
- Abigail Weiler, sophomore, Central High School (Springfield R-XII)
- Maryn White, junior, Lee’s Summit West High School (Lee’s Summit R-VII)
Both Bernstein and Ravasini earned a $1,000 award and an engraved silver medallion. During the events in Washington, the duo will join the top two honorees from the other states and the District of Columbia. A total of ten national honorees will be selected from the state winners to earn an additional $5,000 in awards and $5,000 in grants from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.