Youth Appreciation 2021 Off to a Rousing Start!

On Thursday, February 4th, guests from West Salem High School joined the club’s meeting virtually for the first Youth Appreciation celebration. Faculty representative Travis Meyers introduced Anna Kuberski and Alexa Hurtado Mendoza as well as spoke about Iris Perez who was unable to join by video. These three students were awarded certificates and a cash prize for their achievements — which were many.

Below are synopses of each student. The club enjoyed learning about and talking with these exceptional students.

Anna Kuberski

Community Service

Anna Kuberski transferred to West Salem High in 2019, and she is now in her junior year. She was one of the first students who helped revive the school’s Environmental Club, and she was voted in as club president. The club advisor calls her a “natural leader,” a “great planner and organizer,” and one who reached out to new members and made them feel welcome. The many club activities that Anna has helped organize include :

  • Four socially-distanced trash clean-ups

  • A guest speaker

  • Several student-led presentations on environmental issues.

When asked about her future plans for the club, Anna spoke of starting up a garden on campus, and assisting a local elementary school in reviving their garden to help these kids attain some basic gardening skills as well as learning about environmental stewardship. (Interestingly, when Alexa Hurtado, a fellow West Salem High student who received an award for Vocational Technology at the meeting, mentioned that there already exists a garden plot on the school grounds, Anna broke into excited applause.)

As to her plans for college, Anna admits she has not made a firm decision yet, but is leaning toward a program in Environmental Science, probably at U of O (Eugene).

Alexa Hurtado Mendoza

Vocational Technology

Alexa Hurtado Mendoza is a senior at West Salem High and the current President of the Students for Change (S4C) club. She has followed in her older sister’s footsteps, who served previously for 3 years in S4C, and also as President part of that time. Her vocational interests lie in the business world (banking, marketing). She is the manager of the school store, runs an Instagram page for the store as well as the MAPS Credit Union on campus, the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) at the school, and her S4C club. Alexa is also involved in managing the school website. Where does she find the time?

While her vocation is business, Alexa’s passion is to help people. She is deeply involved as a volunteer in fund-raising activities that have benefitted organizations such as “Simply Birthdays” for homeless kids, the “Liberty House” devoted to people in need, and the new building for Union Gospel Mission. She currently serves as an intern at the MAPS Credit Union in Monmouth, and has managed to persuade the MAPS people there to donate money to worthy causes, including her own S4C club.

The internship with MAPS has been instrumental in charting Alexa’s pathway to the future. Her original plan was to attend U of O in Eugene in pursuit of a business degree, but she has come to admire the community of Monmouth so much that she has decided to pursue banking and marketing at Western Oregon University (in Monmouth) instead. Lucky WOU!

Iris Perez

Community Service

Iris Perez was unable to attend the Zoom meeting so Travis provided some information on her “community service” activities. Iris has been a member of the campus “Students for Change” (S4C) club for several years now. She has been part of the “teen action team”, whose activities have included serving meals at the Union Gospel Mission and participation in the collection of shoes for the needy in the annual “1000 Soles” program in Salem. Iris has also contributed as a volunteer in several fundraisers, including one for Taylor’s House, a home for youth; she also helped provide Christmas gifts for 114 local kids. One of her teacher/advisors notes that Iris “embodies servant leadership.”

Nathan Parks

Community Service

The Club had the pleasure of also meeting Nathan Parks and hearing about his achievements at the February 4th meeting. Nathan is a senior at South Salem High School. Nathan was recognized for his commitment to his community. Nathan has volunteered over 300 hours at the Marion Polk Food Share throughout his high school experience. He is loved by the warehouse team at MFPS and he is dedicated to fighting hunger in Marion County. Nathan was also recognized for his commitment to planning his future. He has expressed interest in obtaining future employment at a McDonald’s restaurant. After graduating high school, Nathan will head to a Community Transition Program in the district to further hone his employment skills.