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For Immediate Release

 May 20, 2013

Contact: Dan Voelpel, director, Public Information, 253-571-1015, dvoelpe@tacoma.k12.wa.us

Students earn varsity letter in community service

More than 60 Tacoma Public Schools students earned their Youth United Varsity Letter in community service this past year. These high school students, who volunteered this past year from April 1 through March 31, belong to a group of 536 young people receiving a varsity letter Wednesday, May 22 at 7 p.m. at the Washington State Fair Showplex in Puyallup, according to a United Way press release.

A trend among school districts and youth is the incorporation of community service into their high school career.  Nowhere is that more evident than in Youth United's Varsity Letter in Community Service program.

Youth United, a program of United Way of Pierce County, will honor Pierce County 536 students who volunteered a combined total of more than 126,000 hours of service in the last year.

Pierce County is the first county in the nation to offer such a program, where students receive a varsity letter for service just like those given to athletes and musicians. United Way of Pierce County is now working with communities across the country to incorporate similar programs, using Youth United's effort as a model. 

The Varsity Letter in Community Service program recognizes students in grades 9 through 12 who volunteered 145 hours or more of community service between April 1 and March 31. To qualify, students were required to volunteer with at least one school-related project and one community-related project.  The average number of hours for this year's group was 236 hours, with the top number of hours by a single student at 1,500. The value of this volunteer time as determined by national standards set by Independent Sector is over $2.8 million.

The event will honor 322 first-time recipients, 132 second-time recipients, 67 third-year recipients and 15 fourth-year recipients. The winners reflected service from all classes with 169 seniors, 200 juniors, 89 sophomores and 78 freshmen. Thirty-six schools in Pierce County had letter recipients this year, representing all public school districts as well as private and online schools as well.

Of the varsity letter winners, 12 seniors also earned a Willie Stewart Community Service Scholarship for excellence in volunteer work.  Eligibility for the scholarship requires students qualify for the varsity letter in community service, describe their most rewarding volunteer experience and demonstrate a history of community service completed throughout high school.  Youth United will honor the scholarship recipients with a dinner prior to the Varsity Letter ceremony.  Scholarships ranged from $2,000 to $2,500 with a total of $25,000 awarded this year.

Additionally, United Way will honor Youth Volunteer of the Year Tara Adams.  The Puyallup High School senior was selected for her outstanding community service and will also be featured as the event's student speaker. Dr. Tim Yeomans, Superintendent of Puyallup School District will also speak. Puyallup School District has the most recipients of any district in the county with 226 students.

Since its inception in 2002, the number of students receiving varsity letters in community service has grown each year.  The program distributed just seven letters its first year.

Students volunteered their time with community organizations and school activities such as the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, FISH Food Banks, YMCA, Communities in Schools, American Cancer Society, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, Youth United, Key Club and National Honor Society.

Complete list of Tacoma Public Schools recipients:  
Shelondra Harris, Henry Foss High School, Senior
Aliyah Jimerson, Henry Foss High School, Senior
Ken Jung, Henry Foss High School, Sophomore
Mindy Kim, Henry Foss High School, Senior
Jaazia Moran, Henry Foss High School, Junior
Ashley Nguyen, Henry Foss High School, Junior
Jacqueline Nguyen, Henry Foss High School, Sophomore
Daniel Nguyen Phung, Henry Foss High School, Junior
Shannon Tieu, Henry Foss High School, Senior
Justin Tran, Henry Foss High School, Sophomore
Samantha Tyndall, Henry Foss High School,Junior
Shalujuan Williams, Henry Foss High School, Senior
Tara Harris, Lincoln High School, Senior
Trang Tran, Lincoln High School, Junior
Yemily Zavala Ortega, Lincoln High School, Senior
Alejandra Barajas, Mount Tahoma High School, Senior
Mathew Brown, Mount Tahoma High School, Junior
Siratha Chhao, Mount Tahoma High School, Junior
Trinh Ha, Mount Tahoma High School, Junior
Doan Ha, Mount Tahoma High School, Senior
Angelica Maria Martinez-Estrada, Mount Tahoma High School, Senior
Oanh Tran, Mount Tahoma High School, Senior
Tyler Vanover, Mount Tahoma High Schoo,l Sophomore
Eris Egan, Science and Math Institute, Senior
Bryan Gutierrez, Science and Math Institute, Senior
Timothy Hay, Science and Math Institute ,Junior
Sam McCoy, Science and Math Institute ,Senior
Julia Moore, Science and Math Institute, Freshman
Taylor Palacio, Science and Math Institute, Junior
Brenden Riggan, Science and Math Institute, Freshman
Alisha Silva, Science and Math Institute, Junior
Rachel Clark, Stadium High School, Senior
Carly Knox, Stadium High School ,Senior
Lacey Retzlaff, Stadium High School, Senior
Nichelle Soriano, Stadium High School, Senior
Angela Yi, Stadium High School, Junior
Hayley Acree, Tacoma School of the Arts, Junior
Olivia Breed, Tacoma School of the Arts, Sophomore
Mailani Cisneros, Tacoma School of the Arts, Sophomore
Laura Dalton, Tacoma School of the Arts, Junior
North Foulon, Tacoma School of the Arts, Junior
Emily Freeman, Tacoma School of the Arts, Sophomore
Soren Iverson, Tacoma School of the Arts, Junior
Chase Kolby, Tacoma School of the Arts, Junior
Natalie Millsap, Tacoma School of the Arts, Junior
Ricky Reyes, Tacoma School of the Arts, Junior
Hunter Roy, Tacoma School of the Arts, Junior
Caitlin Scharer, Tacoma School of the Arts, Freshman
Emily Sergent, Tacoma School of the Arts, Freshman
Melina Sergen,t Tacoma School of the Arts, Senior
Anissa Shirley, Tacoma School of the Arts, Junior
Logan Shores, Tacoma School of the Arts, Junior
Alanna Solomon, Tacoma School of the Arts, Sophomore
Sannah Vargas, Tacoma School of the Arts, Junior
Rachel Walter, Tacoma School of the Arts, Junior
Lianne Woodke, Tacoma School of the Arts, Junior
Elizabeth Gore, Woodrow Wilson High School, Senior
May Luu, Woodrow Wilson High School, Senior
Christina Maxwell, Woodrow Wilson High School, Senior
Zoë Mix, Woodrow Wilson High School ,Senior
Sela Neils, Woodrow Wilson High School, Senior
Alex Padilla, Woodrow Wilson High School, Junior
David Shin, Woodrow Wilson High School, Sophomore 

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