Making an Impact Contest Winners – Press Release

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Topeka, Kansas - Kids Voting USA (KVUSA) is pleased to announce the winners of the Making an Impact contest.  The national contest was for students in 6th – 12th grades.  Contestants were required to write a three-page essay describing a community service project and send in any additional, supporting material (i.e. video, pictures, etc.).  The projects were judged on a comprehensive basis including originality, impact, collaboration, and effort.  Rachel Willis, the executive director of KVUSA said that, “Our vision was to create a nation-wide contest to acknowledge the thousands of students around the country who make a positive impact in their communities.  Our entries proved that students are doing just that.”

This year’s winners for the 6th – 8th grade category are Madison Dowdy, Hunter Harvey, Elizabeth Hoepner, and Alisa Reneau from Lithia, Florida.  Kristy Verdi is the project sponsor and social studies teacher at Randall Middle School.  This project not only showed collaboration by involving the entire middle school, but also impacted the community.  These students created a display honoring the victims of September 11th outside the school for everyone to see.  The display was in the shape of a flag made up of individual “markers” for each and every victim.

This year’s winners for the 9th – 12th grade range are Tiara Brooks, Jessica Ireland, Tori Wilson, Michael Himes and Stephanie Walker from Armwood High School in Seffner, Florida.  The sponsoring teacher is Tony Pirotta.  These students presented an idea for a law, which requested the proper rights be granted to a seemingly invisible population of young people, unaccompanied youth, which is any one youth under the age of 21“who have been separated from both parents and other relatives and who are not being cared for by an adult who, by law or custom, is responsible for doing so”.  Willis stated, “These students understand what it means to be an active citizen.”

The winners and sponsors are receiving an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C. where they will be headlining the Engaging Today’s Youth for Tomorrow’s Civic Leadership symposium on March 29th.  The half-day event also will showcase civic engagement experts and provide the audience with a unique, international perspective on civic engagement.  Directly following the symposium, the organization is hosting a fundraiser luncheon.  Mr. Mike McCurry, the press secretary for the Bill Clinton administration, is the keynote speaker.  McCurry is a supporter of civic engagement activities and has previously keynoted KVUSA conferences.  The Making an Impact winners and the Educator of the Year also will be recognized at the luncheon.  Tickets may be purchased to the luncheon by contacting the national office.

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