Anthony Lauer, 15 of Belmont and Shilo Summers, 11, of Monongah were named West Virginia’s top 2004 Prudential Spirit of the Community Award. In its ninth year, Prudential Financial partners with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). More than 20,000 high school and middle school students submit applications each year.
Lauer was nominated by St. Marys High School, where he is enrolled as a sophomore. Through his efforts, nearly $70,000 was raised to construct a community monument and park memorializing 51 men who died in a 1978 cooling tower accident, the worst construction disaster in U.S. history.
Summers is a fifth grader at Monongah Middle Schools and was nominated by the Marion County 4-H. She volunteers for a number of environmental efforts in what she calls her “Guardian for Earth” project. Through her 4-H organization, she is active in fundraisers and donation drives to replace vandalized plants and helps beautifies her community. She also has learned how to monitor streams and insect populations, picks up trash, promotes recycling efforts and works to educate the public on the importance of recycling and the environment.
Both Summers and Lauer will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. where they will be recognized along with other honorees from other states at several events.
In addition, two other West Virginia youths were honored as “Distinguished Finalists.” Kristy Keefer, 17, of Berkeley Springs, was nominated by Berkeley Springs High School, where she is a senior. She founded and directed the “Shining Lights Choir,” a choral music program for children attending three churches in her community. These performers learn musical skills and develop self-confidence as they practice and perform at church services, county fairs and other events.
Natalie Pitrolo, the second “Distinguished Finalist,” was nominated by East Fairmont High School. She created and coordinated a one-week science and health enrichment program for middle school children in her community. She planned and organized all aspects of the event, from securing donations for the program to creating original, themed activities designed to educate youth about health issues and give them the opportunity to explore health care options.
The awards are part of a broad initiative created by Prudential to encourage young people to become involved in their communities. For information on all of this year’s honorees, visit www.prudential.com/spirit, or www.principals.org/awards/prudential.cfm.