Spring Lake Park Leos score silver in first competition

The Spring Lake Park Leos Club earned a silver in its first attempt at a regional competition with a focus on volunteering.

The Spring Lake Park Leos for the first time participated in the Jefferson Awards Students In Action Regional Competition. Pictured were: Bethlehem Haile (left), Beverly White, Der Xiong, Alex Watson, Tommie Lee, Chiong Yang and Chris Nguyen.Photo submitted

The Spring Lake Park Leos for the first time participated in the Jefferson Awards Students In Action Regional Competition. Pictured were: Bethlehem Haile (left), Beverly White, Der Xiong, Alex Watson, Tommie Lee, Chiong Yang and Chris Nguyen.Photo submitted

Six students from the Spring Lake Park High School youth service organization, sponsored by the SLP Lions, won the honor April 20 at the 2013 Jefferson Awards for Public Service, Students In Action Spring Regional Competition.

Students In Action is a national youth recognition and reward program, with a goal of passing the tradition of service and volunteerism on to the next generation of young Americans.

“It allows students to showcase their accomplishments in student service,” said Tom Basquill, the Minnesota regional director of the Jefferson Awards. “Not only is it growing service, but it (the competition) allows them to develop presentation and speaking skills.”

The winning Spring Lake Park Leo team members are Alex Watson, Bethlehem Haile, Beverly White, Tommie Lee, Chris Nguyen and Chiong Yang. The group was awarded a banner naming it a Service Leadership School. SLP Leo Der Xiong also attended but did not present.

The competition took place at the University of Minnesota. More than 100 students from 10 metro area high school groups competed.

“They did awesome,” SLP Leos adviser Pete Yelle said about his group. “We got a silver award banner. For the first time, it was great.”

As part of the competition process, students were asked to detail seven goals aiming to encourage volunteering in school.

The goals are to engage the school community, establish effective use of a leadership team, expand the volunteering capacity, expand financial capacity for volunteering (fund-raising), tell their volunteer stories to the community, grow and expand Students In Action to other schools and be innovative in their approach to growing Students in Action membership.

For the competition, groups were judged 80 percent on their written application and 20 percent on their presentation.

The SLP Leos for their win gave a PowerPoint presentation on the group’s many service projects and showed a video on Bands Against Cancer, in which a teen from the group headed the event at which SLP High School students raised funds for patients dealing with the financial aspects of cancer.

Among its many volunteering efforts in about 30 different programs for the year, the SLP Leos have assisted in setting up the Panther Foodshelf at SLP High School. Once a month, they pack food at Feed My Starving Children in Coon Rapids and once a month they process eye glasses – sorting and cleaning them, washing them and reading prescriptions – readying them as part of the SLP Lions initiative to ship them to Third World countries.

In other service projects, the Leos helped create scenery for SLP High School’s spring musical “Little Shop of Horrors.” They also collaborated with other clubs at the high school in service projects. They worked with the high school’s OEC (Opportunities in Emergency Care) students to assemble hundreds of ham sandwiches that were distributed to the homeless.

“It’s been really neat to do these things,” Yelle said.

Five event sponsors judged the competition – two from Connexus Energy, two from the Minnesota Vikings and a University of Minnesota athlete.

The International School of Minnesota of Eden Prairie won the competition and the opportunity to attend the Jefferson Awards National Ceremonies in Washington, D.C., June 18 and 19.

Yelle estimates the SLP Leos, comprising 60 members, participate in 100 volunteer activities during the school year.

Yelle particularly enjoyed bringing students to the competition for the first time, he said.

“It’s neat to see so many great things going on in the schools,” Yelle said. “So many service projects. A lot of these kids are so passionate about doing these service projects.”

Elyse Kaner is at elyse.kaner@ecm-inc.com

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