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Exchange Club honors local 'Youth of the Year'

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- It was a day for honoring the achievers, the builders and the future leaders of the area, the state and perhaps the country at the Exchange Club of Albany Friday.

"All too often we hear about the bad kids," said Exchange Club President Barney Knighton. "It makes you feel better about the country to know that we are passing the leadership down to these kids. Sometimes they go unnoticed."

With high-caliber grade-point averages, more extracurricular sports and activities than could fit on several pages and a real heartfelt thank you, six area high school seniors accepted scholarship checks from the club.

Beverly Guillebeau of Deerfield Windsor School led the students with the top scholarship of $500 and the chance to compete for the club's state prize of $1,000 and the club national scholarship of $10,000. She plans to major in biology at the University of Georgia.

The other recipients, who each carried just as impressive a resume of scholarship and achievement as Guillebeau when they entered the competition, received $300 scholarship checks.

They include Kyle Wingfield of Lee County High School; Kelsey Spencer of Sherwood Christian Academy; Samaria Roberson of Albany High School; Morgan Smith of Westover High School; and Adriann Wilson of Monroe High School.

"We can see what our future looks like with these students and their dedication to excellence in school work and personal lives," said Larry Cook, chair of the scholarship committee. "It is amazing."

Applications for the scholarships are voted on by a six-Exchangite committee according to guidelines given them by the organization's national office. The guidelines are based on a student's academic career, personal achievements and community service since the 10th grade.

There are up to 10 areas of achievement that can add to a student's score such as academics, sports, student clubs and volunteer community commitments.

An 850-word essay on a yearly topic must also be written. This year's topic was "Youth and Sharing the Shining Light of Volunteerism."

Guillebeau read her essay to the club members as is the custom for the top scholarship winner at the ceremony. She described the feelings she had when she ran a blood drive in honor of a classmate suffering from cancer.

"Many told me how honored they were to be a part of this event, and I believe this drive served as a great example of how a community can truly support and uplift an individual and family when they need it most -- the chief goal of volunteering," she read.