Illinois’ Top Two Youth Volunteers Selected in 12th Annual National Awards Program
Barrington Hills and Wheaton students earn $1,000 awards, engraved medallions and trip to nation’s capital
Honors also bestowed on other top youth volunteers in Illinois
SPRINGFIELD, Ill.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Rishi Sethi, 18, of Barrington Hills and Kendall Ciesemier, 14, of Wheaton today were named Illinois’ top two youth volunteers for 2007 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. The awards program, now in its 12th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
Rishi was nominated by Barrington High School in Barrington, and Kendall was nominated by Franklin Middle School in Wheaton. As State Honorees, each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion, and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees – one middle level and one high school youth – from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for several days of national recognition events. Ten of them will be named America’s top youth volunteers for 2007 at that time.
Rishi, a senior at Barrington High School, founded the Barrington School District Chess Program nine years ago, and has since helped introduce the game of chess to schools throughout his district and hosted chess tournaments that have raised $10,000 for local and international charities. Rishi, who won a trophy at a national tournament in fourth grade, started a chess club at his elementary school because no one else there played the game. He launched another club when he entered middle school, and began recruiting club members to teach chess to other students. To challenge his fellow players and involve the community in his program, Rishi also began running chess tournaments in places such as a grocery store, a nursing home, a church and hospitals.
Today all of the schools in his school district have chess clubs, and Rishi’s program has helped establish clubs in India, Mexico, Chile and Borneo, as well. In addition, his tournaments have raised thousands of dollars for charities such as the Adult Literacy Center, Citizens for Conservation, the Spina Bifida Foundation, Red Cross for Katrina Relief, and Heifer International. Besides teaching new skills and raising money, Rishi’s program has given local students valuable exposure to different cultures. “Chess is popular in the rest of the world, and it can help students in Barrington connect with other cultures,” he said. “It is exciting to find a common language such as chess with which we can communicate with people all over the world.”
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