Editor's note: To welcome the new year, and to show the good and promise that we can expect from upcoming generations, Connecticut Family magazine has launched a yearlong feature which highlights the leadership and inspiring activities of area young people.
This series recognizes the community builders of tomorrow: – students who see an outstanding need and work to meet it; who mentor and nurture others; who show leadership in inclusion, compassion, and advocacy; and who work diligently (and often quietly) to further a cherished cause. Each day, and all around us, young people are motivated and working to better this world: to help, to heal, to share, to acknowledge, to grow.
In collaboration with Dominion Energy – Millstone, New London county educators are asked to nominate young people deserving of recognition. The first three profiles appear in this issue; we look forward to publishing many more.
If you know a young person making a difference in our world, please (with parent or guardian permission) send a brief write-up detailing their accomplishments, school, grade and contact information to Managing Editor Faye Parenteau, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions are welcome at 860-701-4375.
Avery Samokar is a Senior at Ledyard High School in Ledyard. Principal Amanda O. Fagan enumerated the many worthwhile activities that keep Avery busy: class officer, Amnesty International, Key Club, Student Congress, National Honor Society, Tri-M music honor society, and Rotary Youth Leadership. Fagan added that Avery is “a really neat kid.” A face-to-face meeting with this bright young woman proves it.
CF: Among other things, you’ve been involved with the Special Olympics and Unified Sports. How and why did you choose this focus?
AS: “I’ve done Special Olympics ever since I was little. My family goes every year, usually around July. We check people in, usually for the softball and javelin-throwing. Then we line up the contestants and give them stickers after they throw. It’s really fun and they get really excited about it. I started Unified Sports in my sophomore year; we play basketball and practice once a week after school. We do little games and practices with the special needs students, and the other helpers. Then we go to games at different high schools, like Fitch and Norwich Free Academy, and play against their Unified Sports teams. I really like how excited the special needs students get. I’m close with one student and he loves it when I cheer for him when he gets the ball or scores a point. I like seeing him smile, and that’s the main reason I do this.”
CF: Tell us about all your other clubs and activities.
AS: “Most of the things I do are to help the community and bring people together. I started Key Club in my freshman year and now I’m the vice-president. In my sophomore and junior years, I was the chairperson of a needy families committee we organized. We collected coats, scarves, hats, and mittens for families in Ledyard who didn’t have any. That was probably my favorite project. In National Honor Society, we do a toy drive for families who don’t have enough money to buy toys for their children. We did it this year with Toys for Tots.”
CF: What are you doing with Rotary Youth Leadership?
AS: “In my sophomore year, I was picked to go to the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards in Cheshire. We talked about leadership and communication skills, then at the end, we worked on a project with people from our area. I was working with students from Ledyard, Norwich, and Stonington. We were instructed to make a program that would help out in the community—a school-wide, or town-wide, or even international program. Our group focused on our town and surrounding towns. So, a couple of years ago, the music programs were cut from the elementary schools, and what we tried to do was make a program in town where students of any age could come and learn from a high school student to sing or play an instrument. I’d really like to try to do something like that again after I come back from college.”
CF: Principal Fagan tells us that you are an ambassador for the incoming Grade 8 students?
AS: “I just started that this year and I like doing it because I love the school. We go to other middle schools and set up a booth. Because Ledyard High School is an agri-science school, students from 12 surrounding towns can attend through our program. We tell them about all the opportunities at our school and what they can do. I think I’m good for that job because I’m involved in so many clubs and activities, and I know a lot of different aspects about attending school here.”
CF: We also heard that music plays a big part in your life...
AS: [Enthusiastic nod] “I’ve been involved in choir since the fourth grade. I joined the audition choir in middle school, then auditioned for the concert choir for my freshman year. Last year I was in Select Singers, a treble choir and that really prepared me for the chamber choir I’m in now. I love the bonding I have with the other members, and I like getting people together with music. I hope to be in an a cappella choir in college.”
CF: Are any of these projects or activities part of your plans for the future?
AS: “I’m not entirely sure right now. I’d like to go into public relations, I think.” [Thoughtful smile] “I do like to help people. At Career Day last year, I met someone from United Way who works for a nonprofit, doing fundraising to help others in the community, and I thought that was really interesting. That’s a possibility for me.”
For more information on the organizations mentioned in this article:
Amnesty International is a worldwide human rights organization; amnestyusa.org.
Rotary Club is an international organization which helps business, professional and community leaders come together to provide humanitarian services in their communities and beyond; rotary.org
Special Olympics is the leading sports organization for people of all ages with intellectual disabilities; specialolympics.org.