Six Jefferson City area students were honored Thursday for their service as part of the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce's Partners in Education Appreciation Banquet.
And a locally owned company and an elementary school were honored for their outstanding partnership with a Program of Excellence Award.
The annual banquet recognizes schools, businesses and students who are seeking to make a difference in the community.
New this year, a student who displayed exemplary Characterplus traits received an award sponsored by Central Bank, which went to Blair Oaks High School student Jonathan Aur.
The six students receiving Youth Service Awards were: Austin Rachau, Joseph Hale, Aur, Betsy Britt, Brooke Hagenhoff and Alicia Runkle.
• Rachau, a student at Blair Oaks, demonstrates exceptional tutoring skills. As the fall semester drew to a close, Rachau's A+ tutor time was to have ended because he had completed his required tutoring hours.
Knowing how much he was going to miss the first-graders and how much they would miss his guidance and help, Rachau rearranged his spring semester, so that he could once again be a helper in the first-grade class.
He doesn't tutor because he is getting credit; he does it because he wants to do it.
• Hale, a student at Lewis & Clark Middle School, has shown exemplary character in school and community volunteer activities. In the past year, Hale has participated in a variety of service activities which included shoveling snow and helping clean at his church.
Hale also participated in Scouting for Food. He said, "While doing this, I realized how important it is to help other people who aren't as fortunate."
His biggest service project this year was assisting in transforming a garage into a bedroom for a family who has adopted a child. Through this project, Hale demonstrated his hard-working nature and dependability to be on the job. In addition, he said, "I have enhanced my ability to follow directions and stay on task."
• As Aur's friends spent the summer after their senior year going to parties, hanging at the pool, meeting friends at the mall for movies and just waiting to begin their first year of college, he embarked on an incredible journey - unaware of how this journey would change his life and test his faith.
Aur answered a call for a year-long mission to Brazil. He lives in a small neighborhood in a small house with five or six other missionaries. On a good day, they might have enough water for each person to take a quick, cold shower and still have enough left over to prepare the day's meals. Each person in the household takes turns preparing these meals on about $5 a day.
One of Aur's projects with "Hearts Home USA" that he hopes will come to fruition before he returns home is the building of a small soccer stadium behind the mission home. He has taken it upon himself to go out and ask for the donations to build the stadium. This will give the neighborhood a safer place to play, even if just for the day.
• Britt, a student at Calvary Lutheran High School, has taken the lead at his school by developing a number of new projects designed to help others and to educate students about the plight of those less fortunate.
Having survived a brain tumor when she was in the fourth grade, Britt wanted to help others who were similarly afflicted. In September, to highlight Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Britt organized a bake sale and recruited others to assist in the baking, which raised $100 for St. Jude Children's Hospital.
Britt also organized activities to highlight Eating Disorders Awareness Week in February and Child Abuse Awareness Month in April. She has secured a matching grant to benefit the Rainbow House in Columbia through the March of Dimes.
• Hagenhoff, a student at Jefferson City High School, has enjoyed playing violin with the Jefferson City Symphony Orchestra, bringing music and culture to the community and not missing a concert in four years. She serves dinner monthly at The Salvation Army Center of Hope with her church youth group from her church.
Hagenhoff volunteered with the CROP Walk, recruiting walkers and collecting donations from her congregation. She has helped with the Outlaw Car Club by selling raffle tickets at car shows and cruise-ins to raise funds for Central Missouri Honor Flight.
• Through a $250 Federal Service Learning Grant, Thomas Jefferson Middle School decided that bags of food or Snack Packs would be made for students who would need extra food during spring break. Runkle worked with the student council, the eighth-grade P.E. classes, and eighth grade choir to hold a Dance-a-thon.
Runkle made sure that everything the service learning group did was in line with the middle school curriculum, as well as with the school and community CharacterPlus program.
Lastly, Learfield Communications Inc. and West Elementary School received the Program of Excellence Award for the innovative WEST(Where Everyone Serves Together) Club.
Learfield supported the WEST Club in monetary ways, purchasing club T-shirts, sending representatives to the monthly meetings, and assisting in some of the community service projects.
WEST Club will not end when the school year ends. They have planted a community garden, the produce from which they hope to donate to the Samaritan Center.
Dana Struemph is the education and small-business assistant with the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce