Two Kansas teens were announced at a ceremony Monday, March 6, as recipients of statewide honors and college scholarships by the Kansas Boys & Girls Club. The announcement took place at Washburn Technology Institute, Topeka, as tornado sirens were sounding.
Christopher Burrell, Wichita, was selected by a panel of distinguished judges as the Kansas Boys & Girls Club’s Youth of the Year. Celeste Marchbanks, Ft. Leavenworth, was named Kansas Military Youth of the Year.
The recipients were chosen from eight candidates who came to Topeka to present their qualifications and prepared speeches for the judges as to why they should be selected as Youth of the Year.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) supports the Boys & Girls Clubs financially and through programs such as the Kansas Reading Roadmap, a grant-funded reading initiative. DCF is proud to participate in the selection of the Youth of the Year. Serving on the panel of judges was Daniel Klucas, Deputy Secretary of Operations for DCF.
“All the students we judged were champions of their club, and it was hard judging them because they were all winners,” Klucas said. “They all had tough stories to tell, but those stories depicted how they handled adversity and rose to the top.”
The Youth of the Year program promotes and celebrates young people’s service to their club, community and family; academic performance; moral character; and public speaking abilities. Each year, the Kansas Boys & Girls Club selects a Youth of the Year and a Military Youth of the Year to represent the organization at a regional competition. Winners from the regions then compete in Washington D.C. for National Youth of the Year.
“I’ve been a Boys & Girls Club member for seven years,” Burrell said. “They’ve helped me and my family through many struggles and have introduced me to many new things and different walks of life. It’s an honor to be nominated [as Youth of the Year]. It feels like all my hard work is paying off, and I’m taking big steps towards a brighter future.”
“My experience with the Boys & Girls Club has been really, really great,” Marchbanks said. “When I first came there I was a troubled child, and I didn’t know how to express myself. They taught me how to express myself—that I could just be me. Being nominated [as Military Youth of the Year] means that my dream of inspiring people is finally starting to take off, and I’m really excited.”
Zion Bowlin, Lawrence, was the first runner up for the Youth of the Year. Hannah Lamson, McConnell Air Force Base, was the first runner up for the Military Youth of the Year.
The Kansas Youth of the Year winner and Military winner each receive a $5,000 scholarship supported by Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s national Youth of the Year sponsors: Disney, Toyota, University of Phoenix, Taco Bell Foundation for Teens and local sponsor Devine, Donley & Murray.
“We use the Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year to highlight the skills, accomplishments and community service of young people in communities here in Kansas and around the country,” Boys & Girls Club Government Relations Director Joyce Glasscock said.
The Boys & Girls Club of America includes four million members. Its mission is to enable young people to reach their full potential and become caring responsible citizens. It offers education and career programs; character and leadership programs; health and life skills training; arts programs; sports, fitness and recreation; and other specialized programs.
(left to right: Clark Coco, Washburn Institute of Technology Dean; Celeste Marchbanks, Military Youth of the Year, Fort Leavenworth; Kristina Jones, Boys & Girls Club Southwest Regional Vice President)
(left to right; Kristina Jones, Boys & Girls Club
Southwest Regional Vice President; Christopher Burrell, Youth of the Year, Boys
& Girls Club of South Central Kansas; Clark Coco, Washburn Institute of