Chesapeake and Media Honor Student Leaders
By Rick Hiduk
In September, Chesapeake Energy partnered with the Bradford County 4-H, the Bradford County FFA, the Bradford County Conservation District, and numerous media outlets, including the Rocket-Courier to honor student leaders at high schools throughout the county. On Nov. 10, the eight students that had been selected on a weekly basis were brought together with their families and school administrators at the Towanda Country Club. The banquet, which featured Chesapeake corporate development coordinator Jane Clements as master of ceremonies, extolled the value of student leaders and ended with a plea by Rep. Tina Pickett for the teens to consider returning to the area after college to apply their skills in their local communities.
“Discovering Tomorrow’s Leaders” gave county residents an opportunity to nominate students who have displayed exemplary leadership qualities within the 4-H, FFA, Scouts, and other student volunteer organizations. Each week for eight consecutive weeks into November, Mike Lovegreen of the Bradford County Conservation District pored through the nominations to name a winner, each of whom was honored at his or her respective school by Chesapeake representatives. The gas company donated refurbished computers to the school, and, on Nov. 10, Pickett drew the names of two students—Zachary Sporn of Athens High School and Alexander Porter of Sayre High School—as winners of new personal laptop computers.
“It was a really difficult thing to do,” Lovegreen said of the process of reviewing a list of nominees that grew every week. He noted that all of the students were steeped in volunteerism, but, owing to the nature of the promotion, “I took their leadership roles very seriously.”
Lovegreen added that, as a member of many boards and organizations, he often wonders where tomorrow’s board members and leaders will come from. It was refreshing to him to see the names of so many students who might avail themselves to key roles in the community in the coming years. “They were an inspiration,” he stated.
After everyone had enjoyed a buffet meal and desserts, Clements acknowledged Lovegreen, as well as Tom Maloney and Dave Steinfelt, the latter two representing the county 4H and FFA, respectively. Clements also introduced representatives of the various newspaper and radio stations that had supported the program.
Each of the eight students, in the order that they had been selected, was invited to the front of the room to receive a gift bag and enjoy the spotlight for a moment, while Clements read their bios for the audience. A video montage was played that showed each of the same students as they received plaques at their respective schools in the company of school administrators, each of whom shared some personal thoughts about the winner and expressed the pride of the school in their winning student leaders.
Wyalusing Valley High School principal Gary Otis referred to Courtney as a well-rounded student who is a pleasure to be around. “She always has a good attitude. She’ll help anybody out when necessary. She’s one of those students that you love to have represent your school,” he said about Courtney after the banquet, adding that the Chesapeake-sponsored program was a very positive way to recognize teens who are volunteering and doing a lot of important work behind the scenes.
Courtney is the secretary of her senior class and has served as both president and vice president of the WVHS Leo Club. Last year, she logged more than 50 hours of community service, including involvement with the school’s Friends of Rachel program. She noted after the banquet that she was surprised when her family received the call that she had been selected as a weekly winner, and the entire experience was “very exciting.”
Allysa Schultz of Towanda Jr./Sr. High School (THS) is president of her Girl Scout troop, has earned her Bronze and Silver Stars Awards and is currently working toward her Gold Star Award. Through her 12 years of Scouting, Allysa related that she enjoys coordinating holiday activities the most and looks forward to working with her fellow Scouts on Toys for Tots and Letters to Santa projects. Her troop also conducts a “Polar Express” party for youngsters, which involves the Girl Scouts dressing up as characters from the popular Christmas movie for a special screening of the film. Allysa was humbled by the Tomorrow’s Leaders commendation.
“It’s not something you expect to be recognized for when you do it just because you enjoy it,” she stated. At THS, Allysa is a tutor, a bandleader, and a member of the SADD and art clubs.
Northeast Bradford High School senior class president Davis Young is a member of the National Honor Society and volunteers with a number of nonprofit organizations, including the Ronald McDonald House. He is an accomplished trumpeter and lends his talents as a musician at nursing homes, church functions, and other fundraisers. Davis plans to become a doctor and has already begun his pre-med studies. In the meantime, he has interned with Rep. Pickett.
Pickett offered closing remarks at the banquet and noted that she has worked with and become acquainted with several of the students who were selected as winners in the Tomorrow’s Leaders program.
“I’ve said to many people that these kids make some of us feel like we’re standing still with everything that they are involved in,” she stated. Pickett concluded the evening’s festivities with an appeal directed at the student leaders. “Stay in Pennsylvania. We’re proud of you, and we need you.”