Kathleen Waeldner, 18, of Yarmouth, was named one of two top youth volunteers of 2017 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.
Waeldner, a senior at Yarmouth High School, worked with a local community services agency and a nonprofit organization to develop and expand a summer meal program for at-risk children in her town. Waeldner said she was horrified when she saw video clips from a documentary about hungry children in America. “Learning about the problem of pervasive hunger in my own country was like a physical slap in the face,” she said. As she left the auditorium in tears, her thoughts quickly shifted from “How can this happen?” to “I am going to help solve this.”
Waeldner was soon packing weekend food bags for a program that feeds students from low-income families on days when they do not receive subsidized school lunches. She wondered, though, how the kids managed during the summer, and was happy to discover that a summer lunch program was about to start in her town. She quickly signed on to help launch the new program and began recruiting other teens to serve meals. The program was scheduled to end three weeks before the end of summer, but Waeldner and another student worked to extend it. The following year, she became co-coordinator of the program and helped expand it to include both breakfast and lunch, as well as activities such as playing games, going on field trips and making friendship bracelets.
As a state honoree, Waeldner will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where she will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2017.
Teddy Conway, a sixth-grade student at Greely Middle School, won the school competition of the National Geographic Bee on Jan. 27 and a chance at a $50,000 college scholarship. The school Bee, at which students answered questions on geography, was the first round in the 29th annual National Geographic Bee.
Thousands of schools around the United States and in the five U.S. territories are participating in the 2017 National Geographic Bee. The school champions, including Teddy, will take a qualifying test; up to 100 of the top scorers on that test in each state will then be eligible to compete in their state Bee on March 31, 2017.
The National Geographic Society will provide an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for state winners to participate in the Bee national championship rounds May 15-17.
Yarmouth native Samuel “Sammy” Holmes Potter was selected for the Senate Page Program in spring 2017 by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, following a competitive selection process. The son of Ben and Dina Potter, Potter is a junior at Yarmouth High School, where he serves as the student body president. He is the founder of the Finance Club and the Table Tennis Club, and he participates in the Global Action Club, Be the Change Club, the student newspaper and Student Ambassadors. He is also a member of the varsity cross country, Nordic ski and tennis teams.