CHARLESTON, W.Va. _ A Harrison County high school student and a Doddridge County middle school student have been named top youth volunteers for 2008 and given the national Prudential Spirit of Community Award.
Eric Yurko, 15, a junior at Bridgeport High School, built a new playground at the Harrison County YMCA in Clarksburg to replace an unsafe and deteriorating play area. He raised $30,000, plus another $15,000 worth of materials and services, for the project.
"Not only was the playground in horrible condition, it also was not handicapped accessible, which I learned was a requirement for the YMCA's day care programs," Yurko said.
Kelsie Marple, 13, an eighth-grader at Doddridge County Middle School in West Union, served last summer as a youth volunteer at a six-week educational program for 40 children from rural and low-income communities across West Virginia. She also assisted with a walkathon to collect canned goods for a local food pantry and articles of clothing for a local church.
"I love to read, and I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to encourage younger children to read," Marple said. "My main goal was to have a good time and to make sure the learning process was just as much fun for the kids.”
Winners of the Prudential Spirit of Community Award receive $1,000, an engraved medallion and a trip to Washington, D.C., in May. The awards are conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Two winners are chosen from each state and Washington, D.C.
Chelsie Bush, 18, a senior at Point Pleasant High School in Mason County, and Brittany Stump, 17, a senior at Parkersburg High School, also were named distinguished finalists and received a bronze medallion.
For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.