JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —
For more than two decades, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America have partnered with the Department of Defense to sponsor the Military Youth of the Year competition, which recognizes high school students based on their merits of leadership, service and academic excellence.
This year’s Alaska Military Youths of the Year are Patrick, age 16 and Alondra, age 15, members of the Kennecott and Two Rivers Youth centers at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
“We work constantly with the youth in preparation for the competition,” said Cody Frederick, Kennecott Youth Center recreation specialist. “They start writing their speeches and practicing public speaking about 6 months before the event. Youth are selected for the award based on their community service, personal achievements, leadership and grade point average.”
Boys and Girls Club of America serve and support half a million military youth and their families every year, including the 484 affiliated youth centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. At the local level, clubs selects candidates from ages 14 to 18 for youth of the month. Of those, one goes on to represent their club in the state competition. The program is designed to promote service to club, community and family, academic success, strong moral character, life goals and poise and public speaking.
Both winners of Alaska Military Youth of the Year have earned the title through countless hours volunteering at the youth center, and for their overall dedication to themselves and the community.
Patrick has volunteered approximately 100 hours with the Kennecott Youth Center and other organizations over the past year, received the Presidential Service Award, and referees for Youth Center soccer games.
“Alondra was the definite choice as the Two Rivers Youth Center candidate for Alaska Military Youth of the Year,” said Brandon Gurley, Two Rivers Youth Center recreation specialist. “We’re very proud of her and how well she’s done here.”
Alondra placed second in the state competition and received a $500 scholarship from the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Next year, Alondra and Patrick will be eligible to reenter and compete at the state level. Participants who place first will receive an invitation to the Pacific Air Forces regional level, where they would compete for a $10,000 scholarship–renewable for up to $40,000–and a chance to attend at the National Military Youth of the Year competition in Washington, D.C., where a $100,000 scholarship will be up for grabs. Additionally, the winner will serve a one-year term as the military spokesperson for the Department of Defense, the military services and the Boys and Girls Club.
Competitors for Military Youth of the Year must demonstrate academic excellence, give speeches, volunteer in the community and submit four essays. Each candidate submits essays on their healthy lifestyle, military connection, youth center, and personal brand.
Both Alondra and Patrick said that being the Alaska Military Youth of the Year is a great accomplishment and plan to continue their service to the youth centers and community.
For more information visit www.bgca.org/.