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Isabel Brennan of Yarmouth was honored for her outstanding volunteer service during the 24th annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.
Brennan – along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – received a $1,000 award and personal congratulations from award-winning actress Viola Davis at an award ceremony and gala dinner reception held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., on May 5.
Brennan, who is 18 and a senior at Yarmouth High School, has been a leader in a local program that provides breakfast and lunch for kids whose families may not be able to afford three meals a day.
When she was a freshman, a friend told Brennan about Lunch Crunch, a program designed to ensure that children who get free or subsidized meals at school don’t go hungry during the summer. After signing on as a volunteer that first summer, “I quickly fell in love with the program,” she said, noting that participants come overwhelmingly from immigrant and low-income families in a relatively affluent town.
“Lunch Crunch is more than just community service,” Brennan said. “It creates relationships and support systems between different groups of people in a town that does not often recognize these differences.”
In her role as a Lunch Crunch leader, Brennan meets with adult leaders in the community prior to the start of the summer to coordinate and plans the program schedule. She and the person in charge of the district’s food services design a daily menu that is both nutritious and cost-effective.
Once the half-day program begins for the summer, Brennan picks up the food and brings it to the playground where the camp is held, coordinates that day’s student volunteers as they play with and mentor the younger children, and helps with games, crafts and other activities.
Each summer, between 25 and 30 children attend the camp. “Not only is every child fed both breakfast and lunch every day of the summer,” Brennan said, “but relationships and memories are created for everyone that will be unforgettable.”
A student at Gould R. School in South Portland was the winning essayist in this year’s Maine Constitution Essay and Poster Contest.
Sponsored by the Secretary of State’s Office, the annual contest is for Maine students from grades K through 12. Middle and high school students submit essays regarding the Maine Constitution, voting and democracy. Younger students create posters reflecting Maine history or symbols.
The theme for grades 9-12 was “The Importance of Voting and Democracy.” Brent Bellanceau, a 10th-grade student in Laura Fralich’s class at Arthur R. Gould School took first place for his essay entitled “The Importance of Prisoners Votes,” which can be read at bit.ly/2E0s94M.
The winning students and their classmates were invited to view the state’s original 1820 Constitution at the Maine State Archives in Augusta – a special honor, as it is not regularly removed from the storage vault for viewings.
This year’s National Merit $2,500 scholarship winners from Maine include three local designees: Kade J. Kelley and Liberty R. Ladd of Falmouth High School and Ian S. Youth of Scarborough High School.
The students were chosen from a pool of more than 15,000 outstanding finalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program.
National Merit $2500 Scholarship winners are the finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The number of winners named in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s graduating high school seniors.