KCHS student earns tip honor at Kenai Club

Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2001

For Crystal Morris, the Boys and Girls Club of the Kenai Peninsula has provided more than just a place to go after school.

She recently was named the club's 2001 Youth of the Year after competing against several area youths for the chance to travel to Anchorage for the state title March 30.

The Kenai Central High School sophomore has attended the after-school program for the past eight years. The program offers activities, sports and educational help for kids.

"It is just a really excellent program for the kids," she said.

But most recently, her time at the club is spent as the nutritional assistant, providing snacks to as many as 60 kids ages 6 to 18 and cleaning tables after the snack. She works 10 hours a week.

She landed the job in January because she wanted to be able to help her family out financially and save for college. Her plans include attending the University of Arizona so she can be close to her mother, who lives in Tucson.

"I will be the first person in my family to go to college, and I really want to go," she said.

Suzanne Little, executive director of the club, initially told Morris about the competition.

To prepare, Morris had to write a three- to five-minute speech about what the club meant to her, obstacles she has had to overcome in her life and then describe the importance of college.

The competition consisted of five participants, some of them friends of Morris, all delivering their speeches to a group at Paradisos Restaurant.

After the speeches were delivered, the participants then had private interviews with the judges.

Morris said she was not stressed about talking to the judges.

"I was more nervous about the speech than the interview."

After the decisions were made, Little announced the names of the winners, starting with the runners-up.

Morris said she did not think she would win and was surprised when she did.

"It shocked me so bad when she mentioned my name," she said.

Morris and the runners-up all received $1,000 scholarships for entering, but Morris is the only participant who is able to compete in the state competition in Anchorage.

If she wins the Alaska State Youth of the Year title she will go on to complete against five other regional winners for the national honor in Washington, D.C., where President George W. Bush will officially install the national Youth of the Year in a White House ceremony in September.

"I am so wanting to go to Washington, D.C.," she said.

The national winner also will receive a $10,000 scholarship from the Reader's Digest Association, a sponsor of the program.

Morris currently is trying to juggle her busy schedule with preparing for the state competition. She said she has to write nine essays before the event. Besides school, where she keeps a 3.2 grade point average, and the club, she also is a member of the KCHS and Midnight Sun volleyball teams, she manages the KCHS soccer team, is the president of the Keystone Club, the Boys and Girls Club's teen service organization and is a student council representative.

"So, I am a busy girl. But that's the way I like it. I have schedule and a routine," she said.

Little said Morris has spent most afternoons at the club and is a real part of it.

"She is a real special person. She has, in her long attendance of the club, really become a member of the Boys and Girls Club family," she said.

Morris agrees and said the staff also has become a second family to her.

"The club has made such a huge impact on my life," she said. "If I need help, I know where to go. They care and you can see that."

HEAD:Special member

HEAD:KCHS student earns top honor at Kenai club

BYLINE1:By SARA J. SMITH

BYLINE2:Peninsula Clarion

For Crystal Morris, the Boys and Girls Club of the Kenai Peninsula has provided more than just a place to go after school.

She recently was named the club's 2001 Youth of the Year after competing against several area youths for the chance to travel to Anchorage for the state title March 30.

The Kenai Central High School sophomore has attended the after-school program for the past eight years. The program offers activities, sports and educational help for kids.

"It is just a really excellent program for the kids," she said.

But most recently, her time at the club is spent as the nutritional assistant, providing snacks to as many as 60 kids ages 6 to 18 and cleaning tables after the snack. She works 10 hours a week.

She landed the job in January because she wanted to be able to help her family out financially and save for college. Her plans include attending the University of Arizona so she can be close to her mother, who lives in Tucson.

"I will be the first person in my family to go to college, and I really want to go," she said.

Suzanne Little, executive director of the club, initially told Morris about the competition.

To prepare, Morris had to write a three- to five-minute speech about what the club meant to her, obstacles she has had to overcome in her life and then describe the importance of college.

The competition consisted of five participants, some of them friends of Morris, all delivering their speeches to a group at Paradisos Restaurant.

After the speeches were delivered, the participants then had private interviews with the judges.

Morris said she was not stressed about talking to the judges.

"I was more nervous about the speech than the interview."

After the decisions were made, Little announced the names of the winners, starting with the runners-up.

Morris said she did not think she would win and was surprised when she did.

"It shocked me so bad when she mentioned my name," she said.

Morris and the runners-up all received $1,000 scholarships for entering, but Morris is the only participant who is able to compete in the state competition in Anchorage.

If she wins the Alaska State Youth of the Year title she will go on to complete against five other regional winners for the national honor in Washington, D.C., where President George W. Bush will officially install the national Youth of the Year in a White House ceremony in September.

"I am so wanting to go to Washington, D.C.," she said.

The national winner also will receive a $10,000 scholarship from the Reader's Digest Association, a sponsor of the program.

Morris currently is trying to juggle her busy schedule with preparing for the state competition. She said she has to write nine essays before the event. Besides school, where she keeps a 3.2 grade point average, and the club, she also is a member of the KCHS and Midnight Sun volleyball teams, she manages the KCHS soccer team, is the president of the Keystone Club, the Boys and Girls Club's teen service organization and is a student council representative.

"So, I am a busy girl. But that's the way I like it. I have schedule and a routine," she said.

Little said Morris has spent most afternoons at the club and is a real part of it.

"She is a real special person. She has, in her long attendance of the club, really become a member of the Boys and Girls Club family," she said.

Morris agrees and said the staff also has become a second family to her.

"The club has made such a huge impact on my life," she said. "If I need help, I know where to go. They care and you can see that."



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