Phoenix high school students have more time to apply for an award that could highlight them as one of the city’s most outstanding young men and women of the year.
The deadline to apply for the 28th Annual Outstanding Young Man and Young Woman of the Year Award has been extended from 5 p.m. on Dec. 31 to 5 p.m. on Jan. 15.
The award is a tradition at the city of Phoenix meant to highlight the great things high school students are doing across the city. One young man and one young woman are chosen from each district to win the award and two students are selected from those to be named overall winners.
“The award exists so that the city can highlight the achievements of youth and take these really fine examples of high school students and show that there are really very positive movements in youth out there,” said Matt Whitehurst of the city’s Youth and Education Programs. “There’s often times a lot of negative press regarding high school students and teenagers in general so the city likes to try to counteract that and show people that youth can be capable of just as great things as adults.”
Whitehurst said the criteria for the award changes a bit every year and really depends on the judges, who are made up of city of Phoenix employees, Phoenix Rotary Club 100 members and Soroptimist International members. Those three groups fund the award.
Previous winners have been involved in sports and extracurricular activities at school as well as different volunteer organizations in their community.
“Usually it’s students who are very active in their community,” Whitehurst said. “Maybe they have overcome some sort of hardship and really excelled. They’ve gone out and volunteered. They’re the kind of people who are going to grow up and become community leaders.”
Winners each receive a $250 cash reward and a plaque commemorating their achievements.
The application process includes basic information and several short essay questions. Applicants are also asked to include a copy of their transcripts, a recommendation letter and verification of legal residence. The application is all online, at phoenix.gov/education/outstanding.
“For students applying for college it is another thing they can put on their resume,” Whitehurst said. “The award also just brings attention to their community or school. A lot of students that apply for this are very driven and are accruing a lot of awards like this already. This is another thing they can put in their war chest.”
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