WASHINGTON, May 8, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Wyoming's top two youth volunteers of 2017, Rhett Pimentel, 17, of Powell and Grace Estes, 14, of Farson, were honored in the nation's capital last night for their outstanding volunteer service during the 22nd annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Rhett and Grace – along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – each received $1,000 awards and personal congratulations from Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps at an award ceremony and gala dinner reception held at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), named Rhett and Grace Wyoming's top high school and middle level youth volunteers in February. In addition to their cash awards, they each received an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip with a parent to Washington, D.C., for four days of recognition events.
Rhett, a junior at Powell High School, played a major role in founding the "Powell Makerspace," a high- tech community workshop to give students and other residents of his small town the opportunity to learn about and use modern technology. Rhett, a self-described tech enthusiast, used to "drool" over articles and videos on sophisticated technology such as 3D printers, laser cutters and advanced robotics, "all amazing tools that I would probably never get to see," he said. But after attending a tech fair in Denver and talking with his middle and high school tech teachers, Rhett became convinced that his town should and could have a new resource for technology utilization and education. "Technology was progressing rapidly," he said, "and Powell couldn't fall behind."
Rhett, local educators and other community members agreed to create a "makerspace," a place where people can work together with modern technological equipment to design and create things that they couldn't make on their own. Rhett conducted extensive research on the equipment and tools that the proposed facility should have, worked with others to draw up plans for its operation, and made presentations to solicit donations and forge partnerships. After the Powell Makerspace opened last February in a cottage donated by the local school district, Rhett devoted considerable time to assembling and learning about the new facility's equipment, and designed and taught classes to educate others. "I am proud to say that even though Powell is small and isolated, community members have access to a plethora of amazing technology at the Powell Makerspace," he said.
Grace, an eighth-grader at Farson-Eden Middle School, volunteered as a tutor at her school's summer program last year. When she heard that a teacher she knew needed help with a summer reading program, Grace was quick to volunteer. "I live near the school and I asked her how I could help," she said. "I wanted to help the kids learn to read."
Grace worked during all 16 days of the summer session. Her job was to tutor all of the students in math and reading, read books to the younger students, and help older kids sound out words as they read aloud. She also helped a Spanish-speaking student with math problems. By the end of the session, she had assisted three teachers, and all 22 of the students Grace tutored had met their summer reading goals. Tutoring, Grace said, actually improved her own math and reading skills. She plans to continue as a summer school tutor throughout high school. "I learned that I like to help people," Grace said.
"These honorees have done exemplary work to contribute to the health and vitality of their communities, and we look forward to seeing the great things they achieve in the future," said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. "Congratulations to each of these extraordinary young volunteers."
"It's a privilege to celebrate these students not only for outstanding volunteer service, but for the example they've set for their peers," said Jayne Ellspermann, president of NASSP. "These honorees prove that one person truly can make a difference."
Youth volunteers in grades 5-12 were invited to apply for 2017 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards last fall through schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of the HandsOn Network. More than 31,000 middle level and high school students nationwide participated in this year's program.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program was created in 1995 to identify and recognize young people for outstanding volunteer service – and, in so doing, inspire others to volunteer, too. In the past 22 years, the program has honored more than 120,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and school leaders from across the United States. The association connects and engages school leaders through advocacy, research, education, and student programs. NASSP advocates on behalf of all school leaders to ensure the success of each student and strengthens school leadership practices through the design and delivery of high quality professional learning experiences. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Association of Student Councils. For more information about NASSP, located in Reston, VA, visit www.nassp.org.
About Prudential Financial
Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Prudential's diverse and talented employees are committed to helping individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth through a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds and investment management. In the U.S., Prudential's iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century. For more information, please visit www.news.prudential.com.
Editors: For pictures of the Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions, visit https://spirit.prudential.com/resources/media.
For B-roll of Wyoming's honorees at the 2017 national recognition events, contact Prudential's Harold Banks at (973) 216-4833 or email@example.com.
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/two-wyoming-youth-honored-for-volunteerism-at-national-award-ceremony-in-washington-dc-300452976.html
SOURCE Prudential Insurance