Published 8:54 pm Wednesday, June 12, 2013
The Suffolk Youth Achievement Award winners are high-achieving students who excel in many areas of academics, athletics, arts and community service.
But only one thing separates them from the 670 young people currently incarcerated in juvenile facilities across Virginia, said City Attorney Helivi Holland, who was the guest speaker at Tuesday’s awards dinner at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts.
“It was the choices they made,” said Holland, who was director of the state Department of Juvenile Justice before returning to her hometown to be city attorney. “The choices the award winners made are why they’re being honored tonight.”
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The awards, sponsored by the Suffolk Youth Advisory Council and Suffolk Office on Youth, honored six young people in various categories, as well as a group of three from King’s Fork High School for the group citizenship award. In addition, one young man received a scholarship, and an adult was recognized for his work with local youth.
“It’s an honor to see how many youth in the city of Suffolk are achieving such high awards,” said Councilman Charles Parr in his remarks. “Everyone on God’s green earth has a gift. We all just need to find out what our gift is and give it back to each other.”
Kayron Saunders, a seventh-grader at John F. Kennedy Middle School, received the Rising Star Award. This year, he went from being expelled from two schools to being able to improve his grades and start on the school’s football team.
Emily Grace Bazemore, a junior at Nansemond River High School, received the Outstanding Community Service award. She has volunteered at Lake Prince Woods, the Suffolk Art Gallery, Sentara Obici Hospital, Suffolk Nansemond Historical Society, Effect Theater Company, Edmarc Children’s Hospice, several elementary schools and more.
Ashley Roten, a junior at King’s Fork High School, received the Outstanding Athletic Achievement award. She is captain of the varsity softball team, a three-year letterman in softball, a two-year letterman in swimming and also is in the International Baccalaureate program and has volunteered for Special Olympics and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
Skylar Wall, an eighth-grader at King’s Fork Middle School, received the Outstanding Athletic Participation award. She has played both soccer and field hockey on the junior varsity teams at the high school. Her coach said he considers her an assistant coach as well as a team captain.
Sydney Pressley, a sophomore at Nansemond River High School, received the Outstanding Performing Arts award. She is in her second year of the theater program at the high school. She was part of the Virginia Theatre Association group that performed “Medea,” which received an honorable mention against the top high schools in the state at the conference.
Kayla Vincent, a junior at King’s Fork High School and International Baccalaureate student, received the Outstanding Youth Leadership award. She has volunteered with organizations such as March of Dimes, Relay for Life and the Office on Youth. Her current grade-point average is 4.36, ranking her No. 2 in her class.
King’s Fork High School juniors Brittany Corner, Orquidea Aleagha and Jasmine Parham received the Outstanding Group Citizenship award for a soup kitchen they planned and organized at Tabernacle Christian Church in March. The International Baccalaureate students solicited donations from the community to feed about 300 people.
Samson Worrell received the scholarship from the annual Future Artists, Musicians and Entertainers Showcase.
Jessica March received an honor for being the lone graduating senior on this year’s Suffolk Youth Advisory Council and also received the chairman’s award from Amanda Hamm.
In addition, Suffolk Christian Academy golf coach Mike Bigony was recognized for his work helping the city’s young people have access to golf programs.