Local Teen Honored by Jefferson Award as One of Top Ten Youth Superstars Around the Country

Jun 30, 2010, 14:35 ET from Communities In Schools of Nevada

LAS VEGAS, June 30 /PRNewswire/ -- In celebration of their extraordinary contributions to their school and their work within the community, the Jefferson Awards honored Communities In Schools of Nevada's Eldorado High School Fellows Academy student, Katharine "Kat" Foronda, as a Jefferson Award Youth Superstars at a Washington, D.C. awards dinner on Tuesday, June 22nd. Kat was honored for creating a school resource center at her high school along with fellow classmates.

The Eldorado Resource Center (ERC) offers all students the opportunity to receive weekly food pantry bags, clothing vouchers, tutoring, backpacks with school supplies, college information and scholarship materials, medical care, snacks, computer usage, books, family assistance referrals, mental health counseling and community service, employment and career planning information enhanced by speakers and workshops free of charge.

Kat and her fellow Fellows Academy students assist all newcomers to the ERC by walking them through the paperwork, providing a tour of the facility and an explanation of the services.  They are also making sure their fellow students know about the ERC and the services available.

"We knew we were not the only kids in our school who needed help we received from the Fellows Academy to realize their potential," said Foronda.  "All of our friends needed this type of guidance and support and so we decided to create a center where they could go for help," she added.

Kat spoke at the Jefferson Awards' welcome dinner to talk about the importance of the Fellows Academy's and the resources that help support students to keep them in school and shared personal stories of how the program has impacted her.  She also shared her story with members of the US Senate in conjunction with the awards.

In addition to attending the Jefferson Awards ceremony, Kat and two other Eldorado High School students attended a private speech for Jefferson Awards winners with Vice President Joe Biden.  They also had the chance to meet with U.S. Senators Harry Reid and John Ensign and Congresswoman Shelley Berkley. Macy's generously donated a gift certificate to Foronda to purchase a new dress to wear to the event.

Known as the "Nobel Prize for public service," the Jefferson Awards are presented each year over two days of ceremonies in the nation's capital where a broad array of honorees are recognized – from high-profile individuals who have dedicated the better part of their lives to public service to celebrated professional athletes to largely unheralded community-based volunteers. Also recognized are organizations and companies that represent the pinnacle in corporate citizenship and high schools that best reflect the Jeffersonian ideals of citizen involvement.

The Fellows Academy is a dropout prevention program that connects students with the community to provide them with the tools and inspiration they need to succeed. Many of the students were in jeopardy of dropping out or failing to graduate on time before coming to the Fellows Academy program. Now thanks to Communities In Schools of Southern Nevada with support by the Clark County School District, Nevada Partners, and Olive Crest and funding by AT&T, these students are receiving the credits they need to graduate as well as the inspiration to achieve in life as displayed by the success of their service-learning project and their plans to travel to Washington D.C.

Kat plans to attend UNLV in the fall with the goal of becoming a psychiatrist.  "If anyone would have told me that I would be going to Washington, D.C., let alone graduating from high school and going to college, I would have told them they were dreaming," said Kat. "But now I know that dreams really can come true and that I can do anything I set my mind to," she added.

For more information about Communities In Schools of Nevada and their mission of empowering at-risk students to stay in school and succeed, please contact State Marketing Director, Carolyn Wheeler, (702)339-8516 or by email at Carolyn@cisnevada.org.

About Communities In Schools of Nevada: Communities In Schools surrounds students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. Through a school-based coordinator, Communities In Schools connects students and their families to critical community resources, tailored to local needs.  Working in more than 3,200 schools, in the most challenged communities, in 26 states, and the District of Columbia, Communities In Schools serves nearly 1.4 million young people and their families every year. Communities In Schools has become the nation's leading dropout prevention organization, and the only one proven to both decrease dropout rates and increase graduation rates.

About The Jefferson Awards: Co-founded in 1973 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft Jr. and Sam Beard, The Jefferson Awards annually celebrate America's commitment to public service.  Recognizing both the famous and the unknown, individuals and organizations, the young and old, the awards reflect one of the founding ideals of our nation, that of contributing toward the larger good.  As Thomas Jefferson himself wrote, "Private charities as well as contributions to public purposes in proportion to everyone's circumstances are certainly among the duties we owe to society." The Jefferson Award recipients are nominated from throughout the country and selected by the organization's board of directors, who include Hank Aaron, the Hon. Julian Bond, Cris Collinsworth, Michael Douglas, Whoopi Goldberg, the Hon. Mitch McConnell, the Hon. Harry Reid, Neil Simon, Leslie Stahl and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.  Honorees are chosen on the basis of two main criteria: the outstanding nature of the acts of service and the impact on the community of those acts.  Past recipients of the award include Lance Armstrong, Hubert Humphrey, Dr. C. Everett Koop, General Colin Powell and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.  

SOURCE Communities In Schools of Nevada