The Swainsboro Exchange Club has named its six Youth of the Year honorees for 2021, and one of those individuals, AnnaKade Clemens from David Emanuel Academy, will move on to represent the local area in the Georgia District competition. The other five individuals selected by the Swainsboro Exchangites as 2021 Youth of the Year for the local area are Swainsboro High School’s Layla Connor and Daniel Cruz, Sarah Beth Kersey and Jack Davis of Emanuel County Institute, and one other student from DEA, Garrett Claxton.
As the overall winner, Clemens pocketed a $600 scholarship.
Kersey, the second place finisher, secured a $400 scholarship.
According to Mark Williams, chairman of the program, Youth of the Year applications score students on several sections of achievement ranging from school-related activities, community service, grades, special achievements and awards, and an essay. All of these factors are totaled, allowing the Swainsboro Exchange Club to determine the overall scores and winners.
The local and district levels of competition are subcategories and qualifiers for the National Youth of the Year Award through National Exchange Clubs, which use the program as an opportunity to honor outstanding students who have exhibited excellence in academics and leadership. It is the culmination of an effort by hundreds of Exchange Clubs across the country to identify and recognize the young leaders of the U.S. The recipient serves as a role model to his or her peers by exhibiting exceptional scholastic achievement, respect for self and others, and ambitious career goals. Historically, National Youth of the Year recipients have illustrated that the diligent pursuit of higher ideals truly brings rewards.
The process for selecting the National Youth of the Year begins at the local level. Exchange Clubs provide a yearly recognition of outstanding youth in their communities, and each club selects a single Youth of the Year and forwards an application for district (or state) judging. District honorees are then evaluated at the national level for the final selection of the prestigious National Youth of the Year.
The National Youth of the Year receives a $10,000 scholarship and the opportunity to address hundreds of Exchangites at the National Youth Recognition Luncheon. In addition, the recipient’s winning essay is featured in Exchange Today magazine. This year’s theme and essay topic is, ”I recognize my responsibility in shaping America’s future: I have stepped out of my comfort zone during uncertain times and made a difference. I am part of history, and here is where it started.”