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Awards to honor youths for overcoming struggles

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The 2013 Youth Recognition Awards will show the community youths may be honored for more than just their academics.

Elijah Huntley, 17, a senior at LaFargeville Central School, and Trevor Papineau, 17, a senior at Watertown High School, will receive overcoming odds awards for their struggles, and Sovanndary Sok, 16, a junior at Sackets Harbor Central School, will receive a youth leadership award for her commitment to success.

Jefferson County Youth Bureau Director Virginia J. Harrington said the overcoming odds awards are important because “that’s something a lot of times isn’t recognized.”

“The stories don’t get heard,” she said. “When you hear their stories, you’re just amazed.”

Trevor was nominated by Amanda Brunet of the House of the Good Shepherd for overcoming odds to completing his education and for positive changes he has made to achieve academic and personal successes. Elijah was nominated by Lois Huntley-Seybert for his determination to overcome a disability to achieve success. He will graduate in June and has been accepted to Cazenovia College, Cazenovia, for sports management.

Sovanndary was nominated by 4-H leader Karen Soule for her commitment to succeed despite personal challenges, according to a Youth Bureau news release. Sovanndary has taken on leadership roles in her academics, 4-H, music, sports and at home.

Youth workers will also be honored during the April 18 luncheon at the Fireside at Partridge Berry Inn, State Route 3, with the following awards:

n Promising Ability in Youth Service — to Mitch McCormick, who was nominated “for the creative, innovative and state-of-the-art programming he has implemented as program director of the after-school programs at Belleville Henderson Central School and Lyme Central School.”

n Exemplary Professional Youth Worker — to Marti Ricci, who was nominated “for her innovative and tireless work with at-risk students in the Liberty Partnership Program, and for assisting with the Diversity Club and implementing a Student Ambassador Program,” and to Anthony Gullo, who runs the SoZo Teen Center, which the Children’s Home of Jefferson County oversees. Mr. Gullo was nominated “for his commitment to the success of the SoZo Teen center, working diligently to make the center a safe and caring environment for teens.”

n It Takes a Community — to Pam Reed, Adams Center, who was nominated for her service of more than 20 years as a teacher, mentor, chaperone and second mom to young people in the 4-H program. She has also helped students get their general educational development certificate at South Jefferson Central School and serves on the board of directors of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County.

More details about each award recipient are expected to be released during the luncheon.

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