COMMUNITY NOTEBOOK: Nearly 130 Paly students earn community-service award

President's award represents at least 100 hours of service within 12 months

Nearly 130 students at Palo Alto High School Friday earned the President's Award for Volunteer Service after volunteering 100 hours or more of community service within 12 consecutive months.

Paly Principal Phil Winston joined the school's Community Service Coordinator Christina Owen and Palo Alto Director of Secondary Education Debbra Lindo in presenting the awards in a ceremony during the school lunch break.

Thirty-one students earned "gold" awards, representing 250 or more hours of service; 10 won "silver" awards, with 175 to 249 hours; and 85 won "bronze" awards representing 100 to 174 hours.

All told, the awards handed out Friday represent more than 17,000 hours of student service in the categories of humanitarian work, health and safety, animals and environment, education, seniors and disabled, food and shelter, civic engagement, homes and construction, sports and more.

The following students received awards Friday:

Grade 9: Tal Algomy, Kenny Vi, Ryan Wong.

Grade 10: Charlotte Bamy, Fariha Beig, Israq Beig, Yursa Beig, Sara Billman, Cecile Bourbonnais, Christine Chang, Matthew Ersted, Grace Fang, Simon Fox, Francis Ge, Clare Gill, Yasna Haghdoost, Alvin Kim, Megan Lewis, Raymond Li, Jeffrey Ling, Colin Patterson, Mia Polansky, Amelia Saliba Long, Henry Solomon, Samantha Solomon, Jaqueline Woo, Edward Yeung, and Molly Zebker.

Grade: 11: Aaron Bajor, Madeline Berger, Paige Borsos, Samantha Borsos, Emily Brown, Meghan Byrd, Elise Bruguera, Sam Carilli, Clay Carey, Jillian Chacon, Joseph Christopherson, Laura Cui, Peter Dennis, Skylar Dorosin, Caroline Binger, Naomi Epstein, Corey Garcia, Heather Gaya, Zoe Greene, George Han, Karine Hsu, Micaela Kaye, Sonya Kohli, Daniel Kosaka, Justin Krasner-Karpen, Allen Lee, Melanie Leng, David Lim, Alex Liu, Kyle Liu, Zeyu Liu, Christopher Ma, James Maa, Caroline Martin, Layla Memar, Emilie Merckling, Xavier Mignot, Emma Miller, Sarah Miller, Andrea More, Neena Pai, Nishant Pol, Riki Rattner, Felicity Short, Nikolai Solgaard, Lily Stoschek, Skyler Tom, Keon Vazir, Nikki Whitson, Charles Zhang.

Grade 12: Anthony Ambrosio-Meir, Emily Benatar, Ryan Brenner, George Brown, Susannah Cai, Patrick Carilli, Lucas Chan, Chloe Chen, Justin Choi, Emily Efland, Marie Furter, Cory Garcia, Nadav Gavrielov, Anna Glaves, Amanda Groziak, Kevin Han, Thomas Harrington, Irene Hong, Julia Howard, Athena Huang, Sarah Jacobs, Shireen Jaffer, Shireen Kaboli, Alexandra Kershner, Erin Kiekhaefer, Albert Lin, Graham Marchant, Jackson Moses, Divya Ramakrishnan, Wes Rapaport, Neda Ronaghi, Laura Rossiter, Andrew Scola, Rachel Shaffer, Alexandra Simpson, Jacob Stern, Samara Trilling, Camille Von Kaenel, Manon Von Kaenel, Quinn Walker, Julia Wong, Jordan Zenger.

More Community Notebook:

Nonprofits team up, seek help for the holiday season

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Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 13, 2010 at 11:32 pm

My son is on this list. He began by wanting the hours for his transcript. Then he got hooked and enjoyed volunteering. There's lots to be learned by volunteering. Try it, you'll like it!

Like this comment
Posted by Wondering
a resident of another community
on Dec 14, 2010 at 9:04 am

Although it's great that students are volunteering, and clearly having hours on their transcripts is an incentive that can lead to doing the work for its own sake, I question why any mention should be made of this on transcripts. Feeling like you have to volunteer and have those hours appear on your transcript in order to be competitive in college admissions adds even more stress to students already overloaded with work. I don't know when this policy started, but it didn't exist in my day and I think it should be eliminated now. Nothing wrong with volunteering, but keep the hours off the transcript.

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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 14, 2010 at 9:11 am

Wondering -

I agree that this "award" is an additional stress to students who already have too much on their plates. Looking at the names of kids, I can see several who probably get their hours doing something they love (such as coaching a kids team in the sport they play). I suspect that most of the kids do this for the award and that most are pushed by their parents to complete the hundred or more hours.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 14, 2010 at 11:02 am

Who says they need to engage in community service AND extracurriculars? Community service IS my son's extracurricular. Students need to focus instead of doing too much.

And the incentive of it listed on the transcript/earning the Presidents Award is what lead my son to begin volunteering. Now, he enjoys it and wants to continue volunteering.

Note that for this Presidents Award, hours have to be completed within a year but for notation on the transcript, a student can take all four years to complete. 100 hours in four years is not so stressful.

What's more stressful is to have to study for final exams during Winter Break.

Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 14, 2010 at 3:35 pm

University admissions are quite competitive recently.
Resumes count, regardless of what is listed on a transcript or many parents here push their teens to go overboard to best the other guy on community service (CS) hours, especially at the most sophisticated venue possible. Please, admissions officers, look into fantastic claims vs. honest, self-motivated students who may do a more humble activity and perhaps fewer hours, but who are authentic and operating in a realistic and healthy way. Oh, they AREN'T discovering something related to Genetic Engineering, though.
As an older parent, I have to say school should come first - that statement arises from the incessent complaining of overwork and stress, and IMO a lot is from misguided priorities.

Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2010 at 3:41 pm

I do think it is a shame that many kids are volunteering in their churches, helping teach Sunday school for younger kids, helping with care programs for seniors, housebuilding in Mexico, etc. and are not getting credit. Just because a teen volunteers to help through their church which parents think of as a "safe" organization to help through, they are being penalized by not having the hours count. Helping this way is just the same as helping teach a sport they love to younger kids.

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Posted by another parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2010 at 4:21 pm

My understanding is that volunteer hours are counted in any nonprofit as long as they have someone who can vouch for their hours. Has this changed?

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 14, 2010 at 5:23 pm

@Parent: religion-affiliated community service hours are not recognized on the transcript (separation of church and state) but the hours can apply to the Presidents Service Award (and those hours need to be completed within one year to earn an award).

All parents consider churches "safe"? That's the hypocrisy of religion.

Like this comment
Posted by Hurray!
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 15, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Whether they did it for recognition or kindness, congrats to all!

Like this comment
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 15, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Congratulations to the great kids in our community who volunteer time to help others - those who do it with or without the award! Can anyone tell us which volunteer jobs were especially rewarding for their children?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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