EX­CEP­TIONAL GIRLS

Area YWCA hon­ors young ladies dur­ing cer­e­mony at The Hill School

The Southern Berks News - - FRONT PAGE - By Michilea Pat­ter­son mpat­ter­son@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @MichileaP on Twit­ter

Young ladies mak­ing a dif­fer­ence at their schools and in their com­mu­ni­ties were hon­ored at the first-ever YWCA Tri-County Area Trib­ute to Ex­cep­tional Girls.

The event fol­lows the suc­cess of the YWCA’s Trib­ute to Ex­cep­tional Women. Sheri Mc­Don­ald, YWCA di­rec­tor of pro­gram devel­op­ment, said the trib­ute for girls was es­tab­lished so that young women could be rec­og­nized for their works and con­tinue to “strive for great­ness.”

A to­tal of 18 girls from the state and one young lady from Mary­land in grades 4th through 12th were nom­i­nated for awards in sev­eral cat­e­gories in­clud­ing the arts, health and well­ness and hav­ing an im­pact on their peers. Fam­i­lies and com­mu­nity mem­bers gath­ered at The Hill School on Satur­day to honor the girls with a cer­e­mony.

Cheshonna Miles was the key­note speaker for the event. Miles is the school leader of KIPP West Philadel­phia Prepara­tory Char­ter School which she helped found in 2009. Miles used her love for the mu­si­cal artist Bey­oncé and the

slang term of “slay” to de­scribe ex­actly what it means to be ex­cep­tional.

The slang def­i­ni­tion of slay means to “suc­ceed in some­thing amaz­ing,” ac­cord­ing to the ur­ban dic­tio­nary. Miles said that a friend who is a chore­og­ra­pher for Bey­oncé said she’s ex­cep­tional be­cause the singer slays every day. Miles used this in­for­ma­tion to help mo­ti­vate the young girls in the au­di­ence by mak­ing an acro­nym out of slay.

“Wake up every day and slay. Slay and be ‘smart.’ Slay and be ‘lead­ers.’ Slay and be ‘above av­er­age.” And say ‘yes you can,’” Miles said.

Pottstown High School se­nior Yuliza Cruz, 17, won the Health and Well­ness Award for the high school age cat­e­gory. Cruz does both track and cross coun­try. She said it’s such a re­lief every time she com­pletes a race and crosses the fin­ish line. Cruz also achieves in her stud­ies. She takes dual en­roll­ment classes at Mont­gomery County Com­mu­nity Col­lege.

“Be­lieve in your­self. Trust your abil­i­ties and work hard,” is the ad­vice Cruz has for girls that want to be ex­cep­tional.

Ex­eter Se­nior High School stu­dent Gabrielle Beau­vais, 16, won the Ris­ing Star Award. Beau­vais is ranked 16 of 360 stu­dents. She is in­volved in many ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties and com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions where she has lead­er­ship roles. She is trained in the vi­o­lin, the clar­inet and bal­let.

“I think the most im­por­tant qual­ity for a leader is just to be con­fi­dent in who you are and just be your­self. Don’t be afraid of fail­ing,” she said.

The only out- of- state nom­i­nee and win­ner was Iyanu Bishop of Mary­land. The 16-year- old won the YWCA Tri- County Area Mis­sion Im­pact Award.

Mc­Don­ald said Bishop en­com­passed the qual­i­ties nec­es­sary to work to­ward the mis­sion of the YWCA.

“YWCA Tri-County Area is ded­i­cated to elim­i­nat­ing racism, em­pow­er­ing women

and pro­mot­ing peace, jus­tice, free­dom and dig­nity for all,” Mc­Don­ald said.

Bishop was cho­sen as a 2016 Uniquely You Summit Inc. Cover Girl where she will rep­re­sent for the #ForTheLoveOfBlack­Girls move­ment. She is help­ing to elim­i­nate the stereo­types of black girls by be­ing a role model for her peers.

“I want to help black girls get in touch with their men­tal, emo­tional and phys­i­cal health,” Bishop wrote in her nom­i­na­tion es­say for the

YWCA Trib­ute to Ex­cep­tional Girls.

The re­main­ing award win­ners and their cat­e­gories are as fol­lows:

• The Arts, El­e­men­tary School — Shy­loh Du­gan is a 4th grader at Barth El­e­men­tary. She en­joys tak­ing piano lessons even with her arm be­ing re­cently bro­ken.

• Health and Well­ness, El­e­men­tary School — Rosario Cle­mens is a 4th grader at Barth El­e­men­tary School and a mem­ber of the Tro­jan Bas­ket­ball Clinic.

• The Arts, Mid­dle School — Jolyn Pena is a 7th grader of Pottstown. She’s a ded­i­cated gym­nast and com­petes in solo and group dance com­pe­ti­tions.

• Coretta Scott King Award, Mid­dle School (Given to a girl that demon­strates her­self as an agent of change) — Kennedy White is an 8th grader of Pottstown. She vol­un­teers to feed the home­less, par­tic­i­pates in food drives and helped set up an anti-bul­ly­ing pro­gram at her school.

• Health and Well­ness, Mid­dle School — Ty­onna Brown is a 7th grader of Pottstown. She’s a bas­ket­ball player and has been named “Most Ath­letic” at her school.

• S.T.E.M. (Sci­ence, Tech­nol­ogy, En­gi­neer­ing and/or Math), Mid­dle School – El­iz­a­beth Curry is a 6th grader of Dou­glassville. She’s self-

taught in many art medi­ums in­clud­ing sewing, draw­ing and cro­chet­ing. She learns in­tri­cate pat­terns and cre­ations.

• The Arts, High School — Au­drey Cado­gan is a 10th grader of Audubon. She’s a dancer with train­ing in tap, bal­let and jazz. She also teaches dance to younger stu­dents.

• Coretta Scott King Award, High School — Au­drey Leese is a 10th grader of West Lawn. She’s an ac­tivist for both hu­man and an­i­mal rights. She par­tic­i­pates in peace­ful demon­stra­tions for so­cial jus­tice in her free time.

• S.T.E.M, High School

— Stephanie Han­ton is an 11th grader of Sharon Hill. She works with her peers de­sign­ing ro­bots. She was also awarded the Sci­ence and En­gi­neer­ing Ap­pren­tice­ship with the Depart­ment of Navy.

• Ad­di­tional S.T.E. M. Award, High School — Han­nah Paczkowski is a 10th grader of Pottstown. She par­tic­i­pated in a two-week sum­mer camp for neu­ro­science stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Drexel Med­i­cal Col­lege in Philadel­phia.

For more about the YWCA Tri- County Area and their pro­grams, visit the web­site at www.yw­ca­tri­count­yarea.org

MICHILEA PAT­TER­SON — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

YWCA Di­rec­tor of Pro­gram Devel­op­ment Sheri Mc­Don­ald, far left in front, poses with the girls that were nom­i­nated for the first Trib­ute to Ex­cep­tional Girls which was held at The Hill School on Satur­day.

Gabrielle Beau­vais, of Ex­eter, holds her Ris­ing Star award while pos­ing for a photo next to YWCA Di­rec­tor of Pro­gram Devel­op­ment Sheri Mc­Don­ald. Sev­eral girls through­out the state and even on from Mary­land were hon­ored dur­ing the first Trib­ute to Ex­cep­tional Girls at The Hill School on Satur­day.

MICHILEA PAT­TER­SON — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Cheshonna Miles was the key­note speaker for the first YWCA Tri-County Area Trib­ute to Ex­cep­tional Girls which was held at The Hill School on Satur­day. Miles is the school leader of KIPP West Philadel­phia Prepara­tory Char­ter School.

MICHILEA PAT­TER­SON — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Sheri Mc­Don­ald, YWCA Tri-County Area di­rec­tor of pro­gram devel­op­ment, speaks dur­ing the first Trib­ute to Ex­cep­tional Girls cer­e­mony which was held at The Hill School on Satur­day.

MICHILEA PAT­TER­SON — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Iyanu Bishop, of Mary­land, holds the Trib­ute to Ex­cep­tional Girls award she re­ceived while pos­ing next to YWCA Di­rec­tor of Pro­gram Devel­op­ment Sheri Mc­Don­ald. Bishop was hon­ored with the Mis­sion Im­pact award.

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