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Shaler students honored for work in community

Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Shaler Area High School students' Youth Advocacy League is receiving recognition for the success of its programs this school year.

The Jefferson Awards-Deloitte Students in Action program named Shaler Area the Pittsburgh regional recipient for the Outstanding Service by a High School award.

“What these kids do is they self-identify needs in their community and find creative ways to address a concern, raise money or find a solution,” said Jodi Klebick, the regional director for the Jefferson Awards in Pittsburgh.

“I am in awe of these students. I have the greatest job — I get to work with students who are so creative, compassionate and dedicated.”

The competing schools were evaluated on a written survey about their high school's programs and a six- to eight-minute presentation in front of a panel of judges.

For Shaler Area's presentation, high school students Lauren Groce, Madeline Seel and Alexis Werner portrayed Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie the Riveter and Audrey Hepburn, respectively, to talk about their school's Youth Advocacy League.

The Jefferson Awards was created in 1972 as the Nobel Prize for public and community service. The Students in Action program was created in partnership with Deloitte to increase volunteerism in high schools.

As the recipients of the Outstanding Service award, Shaler Area student representatives of the Youth Advocacy League, a student-led service and social justice organization at the high school, will travel to Washington, D.C., to represent the Pittsburgh/Southwestern Pennsylvania region at the Jefferson Awards National Ceremony and Gala Event from June 16 to 18.

“All of our programs are social-justice oriented, and what we do is meant to make the community a better place for everybody,” said Seel, a senior in Youth Advocacy League. “It's great. Although recognition is not everything, it's nice to know people see what you're doing is good.”

Shaler Area's Youth Advocacy League has five flagship programs: E-Racism, M-Powerment, PEAS, Seeds of Hope and YIELD.

E-Racism works to break down barriers of social injustices toward people because of race, sexual orientation or religion.

M-Powerment was created to raise awareness about sexual harassment, gender inequality and other issues that men and women face.

Protection, Education, Awareness and Support, or PEAS, focuses on the LGBTQ community to make the general community more open-minded and a safer place for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identification.

Seeds of Hope is an organization that plants victory gardens in communities and works to end poverty and mental illness in the veteran population.

Youth Involved Education of Legal Drivers, or YIELD, promotes education on safe driving.

During the 2013-14 school year the Shaler Area's Youth Advocacy League, the high school's Students in Action team, partnered with many clubs and organizations to work to raise money and awareness for its causes.

During the past school year, the student body of Shaler Area tracked more than 9,121 service hours with a financial impact of $205,679 dollars to the community.

“It provides an outlet for high school students to understand and educate (others) on certain social issues,” Groce, a junior, said about the Youth Advocacy League.

“Hopefully, we can get more students involved across the board (through the award recognition).”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or




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