Community - November 30, 2011

Boys & Girls Clubs name Youth of the Year

By Sara Leslie, freelance writer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula.

Stand in public and talk about your life's journey? Get grilled by a panel of community leaders including Kris Weems, assistant coach of the Golden State Warriors; Tim Brady, managing partner, Imagine K12; Minh Ngo, president, 100 Women Charitable Foundation; and Tom Friel, vice chairman of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation?

How many eighth-graders would do this? At the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula (BGCP), Youth of the Year candidates view it as an honor.

Youths of the Year are club members who have demonstrated leadership, a strong academic record, and a commitment to their communities. This year, 13 youth participated in three site-level ceremonies, and the judges selected a Youth of the Year to represent each site. On Nov. 8, the site-level finalists — Omar Avellan, Roman Loza, and Melvin Santos — took the podium at the Youth of the Year finals in Redwood City.

BGCP Board member Dana Weintraub remarked: "Youth of the Year brings together BGCP youth, families, staff, and supporters to celebrate the outstanding members who so eloquently share their amazing accomplishments with us. I am inspired and honored to be a part of BGCP."

Each finalist spoke about his "be word" (his version of what it means to exemplify the Boys & Girls Club motto, Be Great).

The philosophy of 13-year-old Omar Avellanis is "be creative." Originally from Nicaragua, he is fascinated by inventions and creative ways to help others. He hopes to attend Sacred Heart Prep and become a computer scientist.

Roman Loza aims to "be sagacious." He wants to be wise and intelligent and have an open mind. He strives to be a good representative of his family, friends, and the Boys &Girls Club, of which he's been a member since age 6. He hopes to attend Woodside Priory and become a lawyer.

Thirteen-year-old Melvin Santos believes "perseverance is the road to victory." He came to the U.S. from El Salvador at age 3. He aspires to be a choreographer, and promises to strengthen his community. He exemplified his "be words" — "be proud."

At the end of the night, the judges commented on the three finalists' confidence. Mr. Friel said: "I spent 30 years judging talent. The candidates I met had 30 years to prepare for an interview and they did no better than you did tonight."

Finally, the judges made their announcement: the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula was proud to honor Omar Avellan as this year's Eighth Grade Youth of the Year.


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