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North Star Youth Partnership Awards $10,000 Grant McKee and Robert Caldwell Service & Leadership Scholarships To 8 Prescott-Area Students

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (June 15, 2021): Five students from Bagdad High School and Tri-City College Prep were awarded Grant McKee and Robert Caldwell Service and Leadership scholarships through North Star Youth Partnership, a program of Catholic Charities. Three Yavapai College students were also awarded scholarships this year.

The scholarships are named in recognition of Grant McKee and his cousin, Robert Caldwell, two of the Prescott Hotshot firefighters who perished in the 2013 Yarnell Fire. Established seven years ago, $101,900 in scholarships have been awarded, including those from this year. All scholarship recipients have participated in North Star’s Peer Assistance and Leadership (PAL) program. PAL, a proven national model and evidence-based program, creates a peer-to-peer environment designed to encourage teens by building resiliency and assets through youth leadership, mentoring and community prevention activities. The three Yavapai College students participated in and led a virtual hybrid PAL/Girl Talk peer-mentoring program due to COVID-19-related changes in traditional PAL school programs this year, and therefore, were eligible for scholarship consideration.

“All of the scholarship applicants are servant leaders and have accomplished an impressive array of activities and projects,” said Diane DeLong, senior program manager, North Star Youth Partnership. “During the uncertainties of the past year due to COVID-19, they proved their commitment and responsibility of being a role model, as well as their resiliency. Their plans after graduation are exciting and their commitment to achieve their goals inspiring.”

High School scholarship recipients include Bagdad High School – Sierra Gonzalez; Cameron Nations and Hannah Woodburn; Tri-City College Prep – Victoria Kieckhefer and Sophia Tomsho.

Sierra Gonzales from Bagdad High School was a Student Council Representative for three years and Student Council Vice President her senior year. She participated in the National Honor Society (NHS) and made the Honor Roll all four years. Sierra volunteered as a teacher’s assistant for two years. She was on the volleyball and softball teams for four years and was the captain on both teams for two years. She also played on the basketball team for one year and was the manager for two years. Sierra was in PAL for four years and served as the President her senior year. After graduating from high school, Sierra plans to attend Yavapai College and then transfer to Northern Arizona University to earn her degree in Early Childhood Education.

Hannah Woodburn from Bagdad High School was a member of the Family Career Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) from 2017 – 2019 and the FCCLA Historian since 2019. She was a teacher’s assistant in a kindergarten classroom for three years and played on the Golf Team for a year. Hannah was active in the Bagdad PAL program throughout high school. After graduating, Hannah plans to attend Grand Canyon University to study Early Childhood Education, and become a kindergarten teacher.

Victoria Kieckhefer from Tri-City College Prep (TCP) was involved in the School Spirit Club and Bible Club for four years; Improv Comedy Team and Environmental Decathlon for three years; International Relations Club for two years, and Student Council and Chamber Choir. Victoria was part of the PAL program for three years, acting as secretary her sophomore year, Vice President her junior year, and Co-President her senior year. Victoria plans on attending Texas Christian University to purse a double major in Biomedical Engineering and Musical Theatre.

Cameron Nations from Bagdad Unified High School has been an active member of Family Career Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) for the past four years, was Vice President this past year, and on the Student Council for three, and served as the Representative of the Executive Board. Cameron has been involved in PAL for the past two years. He volunteered at Good Samaritan Nursing Home and earned a Certified Nursing Assistant certification in the summer of 2020. Cameron plans on attending Yavapai Community College in the fall.

Sophia Tomsho from Tri-City College Prep High School volunteered for various organizations and community events, including the Highway Cleanup Project, her church preschool, and at gymnastic meets held at the Arizona Dreams Gymnastics Academy, where she works part-time. She is also active in the Prescott Teen Advisory Council that advocates for issues in our community. In her senior year, Sophia organized the monthly awareness weeks at her school and Tri-City’s participation in the Out of Darkness Walk in 2019-2020. She completed honors biology and chemistry and ran cross-country for two years. Sophia was an active member of PAL for the past two years and was co-president her senior year. She plans on attending Yavapai College for the first two years then transferring to Northern Arizona University to pursue a degree in the field of hospitality.

Scholarship recipients from Yavapai College (YC) Honors Program all co-led the hybrid PAL/Girl Talk mentoring program and adapted it to a virtual learning setting due to COVID-19 during the 2020-2021 school year. They helped plan the lessons and created new games and activities. – Deanna Miller; Cassidy Farias and Bethany Kottman.

Deanna Miller has a heart for philanthropy. In high school, Deanna was part of the Interact Club and participated in weekly service projects for the school and community including North Star’s Girl Talk program. As part of the YC Honors College, she has completed many volunteer hours and service projects. She is also a tutor for local students; a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society; and participates in the monthly meeting and service opportunities. She is also involved with the organization Keep Prescott Together, attending meetings and helping with service projects such as supplying families with food boxes from the local farmer’s market. Deanna will attend Northern Arizona University to complete her degree in environmental science followed by serving in the Peace Corps.

Cassidy Farias has logged many service hours in the YC Honors Program, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and the All-Arizona Academic Team. She makes thank-you calls for the donors of the YC Foundation, walks dogs for the Yavapai Humane Society, helps feed the homeless, and assembles donation bags for North Star’s Teens’ Closet. She has also put in over 400 hours of experience teaching children ages 2-15 how to swim. Cassidy became a mentor with the Girl Talk program in early September of 2020. She plans to receive her Associate of Applied Science in Aerospace Science at Yavapai College, and is currently working on her Commercial Pilot’s License at North Aire Aviation.

Bethany Kottman has attended many trainings via the National Society of Leadership. As a YC Students of Leadership member, she volunteered at local food drives and engaged in academics and innovative discussions. At her church, Bethany volunteers in the soup kitchen, assists in the children’s ministry, and co-led middle and high school students in the Youth Home groups. She is

currently majoring in English with an emphasis on creative writing. She plans on becoming a literary agent to help authors publish their books. She enjoys creative writing and aspires to be a published author by contributing research articles and journals.

Financial support for the scholarships was provided by the Paul and Patricia Taylor Family Foundation and the American Legion Post 6 in Prescott.

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