June 22, 2010
In celebration of their extraordinary contributions to their school and their work within the community, three student leaders and two faculty members from Adlai E. Stevenson High School were honored Monday night as the Chicago Recipient for Outstanding Service by a High School at the 38th annual Jefferson Awards for Public Service
National Ceremony in Washington, D.C. In addition to Stevenson High School, 126 other Americans were recognized at the annual gala dinner, regarded as one of the nation's highest honors for community service and volunteerism.
Pictured (left to right): Director of Student Activities Ted Goergen, Karen Klass, Kayla Reinherz, Eric Bersin and Community Service Coordinator Brett Erdmann. (Photo provided by Jefferson Awards for Public Service)
Known as the "Nobel Prize for Public Service," the Jefferson Awards are presented each year over two days of ceremonies in the nation's capital, where a broad array of honorees are recognized: from high-profile individuals who have dedicated the better part of their lives to public service, to celebrated professional athletes, to largely unheralded community-based volunteers. Also recognized are organizations: companies that represent the pinnacle in corporate citizenship and high schools that best reflect the Jeffersonian ideals of citizen involvement.
The strategy of the youth program, Students in Action, is to create leadership teams in each high school in order to: celebrate commendable volunteerism, promote leadership and ethics, inspire others to get involved and raise additional resources to expand volunteer capacity in areas of need in the community. The leadership teams from participating high schools in the Chicago area met last spring, and made presentations before a panel of local judges highlighting their progress and accomplishments toward meeting the program's seven goals. Stevenson High School was chosen out of all Chicagoland Students in Action schools for best exemplifying the program objectives in their school
. The Stevenson student leaders and faculty were 2010 graduates Karen Klass, Eric Bersin and Colby Sharlin, and current senior Kayla Reinherz; Community Service Coordinator Brett Erdmann, and Director of Student Activities Ted Goergen.
This year's national honorees include New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory A. Booker, Partners in Health founder Dr. Paul Farmer, Goodwill Industries International President/CEO Jim Gibbons, and Tad Skylar Agoglia, the founder of The First Response Team of America. Also recognized for their community involvement are two professional athletes: Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and former Chicago Bull Tyrus Thomas, who now plays for the Charlotte Bobcats.
"For almost four decades, the Jefferson Awards have celebrated the best in public service," said Sam Beard, co-founder and president of the Jefferson Awards for Public Service. "While we have been pleased to honor many prominent individuals over the years who have given back selflessly to their communities and the world around them, we are particularly excited about honoring ... these exceptional high school students because they are tomorrow's national leaders."
The 2010 awards presentation took place at the Mayflower Hotel.
About the Jefferson Awards for Public Service
Co-founded in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Sen. Robert Taft Jr. and Sam Beard, the Jefferson Awards annually celebrate America's commitment to public service. Recognizing both the famous and the unknown, individuals and organizations, the young and old, the awards reflect one of the founding ideals of our nation, that of contributing toward the larger good. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, "Private charities as well as contributions to public purposes in proportion to everyone's circumstances are certainly among the duties we owe to society."
The Jefferson Award recipients are nominated from throughout the country and selected by the organization's board of directors, which includes Hank Aaron, Julian Bond, Chris Collinsworth, Michael Douglas, Whoopi Goldberg, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, Neil Simon, Leslie Stahl and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Honorees are chosen on the basis of two main criteria: the outstanding nature of the acts of service and the impact on the community of those acts. Past recipients of the awards include Lance Armstrong, Hubert Humphrey, Dr. C. Everett Koop, Gen. Colin Powell and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
For more information on the Jefferson Awards, visit www.jeffersonawards.org