Youth triumphs recognized at event

Published 10:54 pm Wednesday, June 8, 2011

King’s Fork High School junior Ravynn Stringfield, pictured with Assistant City Manager Patrick Roberts, was honored for outstanding youth leadership at the second annual Youth Achievement Banquet Tuesday. In 2010, Stringfield attended leadership programs at Princeton University and the University of Virginia.

Suffolk’s government honored young people who strive for greatness in their personal lives and for their communities at the second annual Youth Achievement Awards.

Several youths were recognized for their educational, artistic, athletic and volunteer achievements at a banquet held Tuesday at the Planters Club.

“Your role in our community will ensure our community is the best in the Tidewater,” said Ira Steingold, chair of Suffolk Parks and Recreation’s advisory committee. “We are all better off because of you.”

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Girl Scout Senior Troop 946 received an award for group citizenship. The troop has been involved in continuing community service, including Relay for Life and food drives.

Terry Mitchell Jr. was recognized with the rising star award for pulling up all of his grades one letter grade in the first semester this year. He is an eighth-grader at Forest Glen Middle School.

Sarah Bass, a senior at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, received the performing arts award. She has played the piano for 10 years and the clarinet for six years. She has been the clarinet section leader since ninth grade.

Kenya Latham Jr., a John F. Kennedy Middle School student, was the Lakeland High School junior varsity basketball starting point guard this year. He received the middle school athletic participation award.

Kelsey Smither, a Lakeland High School senior, received the high school athletic achievement award. She was a member of the Lady Cavaliers field hockey team that won the state championship. She also was named State Player of the Year and First Team High School All American and plays on the Under-21 national team.

Ravynn Stringfield, a junior at King’s Fork High School, has participated in the International Baccalaureate program, the High School Diplomat program at Princeton University and the University of Virginia’s Leadership on the Lawn program. She received the youth leadership award.

Ashanti Nixon, a junior at King’s Fork High School in the International Baccalaureate program, has helped mentor at countless charities, participated in food drives, worked at the Ronald McDonald House and assisted with bake sales for cancer patients. She received the youth leadership award.

Many city officials, including Vice Mayor Charles Brown and City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn, joined the families of the students and other community members to celebrate the events.

The event, hosted by Parks and Recreation, also recognized the work of Parks and Recreation employee Rickeda Fofana by named her the 2011 Outstanding Youth Sponsor.

A video honoring Fofana featured the testimonies of students whose lives she had impacted.

Fofana said the award took her by surprise, especially because she helped plan the event without knowing she was being recognized.

“I was part of the committee that put this event on, and they somehow managed to keep that one big thing from me,” she said.

Also at the banquet, two youth-led organizations were honored for their work throughout the year.

The Be Fight Free Campaign Planning Committee has student-run committees at four Suffolk schools and works to decrease youth violence by educating others, identifying solutions to ensure youth safety and other methods.

The Suffolk Youth Advisory Council makes sure city officials hear the opinions of young people on issues that affect them.