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Six Brewster High Students Named Putnam Youth Award Winners

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Six Brewster High School students have been named 2022 Putnam County Youth Award winners for their exemplary volunteer service in Putnam County. Rory Charbonneau, Chris Donohue, Franceska Drejaj, Stephen Kovaleski, Megan Renzi and Emily Rusinko were recognized at the 37th Annual Youth Awards Dinner on April 7.

“On behalf of the Brewster Board of Education and the entire Brewster School community we congratulate this year’s Putnam County Youth Award recipients,” said Superintendent Dr. Laurie Bandlow. “We could not be more proud of your accomplishments!”

To be nominated, students have to be active volunteers. They are required to provide a volunteer service log of their last four years of service as well as three references.

Each winner talked about their volunteer experience.

Rory Charbonneau (senior):

I volunteer through many of the school’s clubs including the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Brewster Students Against Cancer (BSAC) and Semper Fi. In addition, I help Brewster Little League by being an assistant softball coach for 10U and 12U teams. Through BSAC, I have gotten very involved with the American Cancer Society and helped to organize Relay For Life. One of my favorite places to volunteer is in the special education classes and the Career Skills classes at the high school. 

My favorite memory of volunteering is when I got to help out at adaptive field day. I could see how much joy the students got from participating and playing in all of the games. It made me realize that the students reacted really positively to me being there and socializing with them.

Volunteering is important because even one small task can have a huge impact on one person or an entire community. I find it important to help establish a sense of community and try to improve the lives of others. If I need help, I would love to know that someone is there for me so I am happy to be that person for others. 

Chris Donohue (senior):

I am the Vice President of Brewster High School Varsity Club and a member of the Math Honor Society. I also coach a sixth-grade Brewster youth football team and coach youth recreation basketball teams.

My favorite memory of volunteering was the sixth-grade football team’s first win. Finally, all the work we put in came together and we were able to win!

Volunteering is important to me because I want to help others and give young kids opportunities that I never had. I hope to be able to take what I have learned and help them learn it at a younger age. 

Franceska Drejaj (junior):

I volunteer at my local church by teaching religion and altar serving. I also volunteer through Youth Court.

Even though everyone expects me to have a favorite volunteering memory, I don’t. There are so many great, moving parts of volunteering and I can’t really decide on the one I love most!

Volunteering is important to me because I’m giving back to my community. I have reaped so many benefits from my school, my family, and those around me. Volunteering allows me to thank those who have helped me get to where I am today.

Stephen Kovaleski (junior):

For school volunteering, I have participated in the Science Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta (Math Honor Society), Habitat for Humanity, and next year I’ll help with National Honor Society. I also have helped run, set up, and clean up tons of the IS/MS PTA events. Outside of school, most of my volunteering is with St. Lawrence O’Toole religious education, Putnam County Youth Court and Vacation Bible School (a summer camp offered by the local church).

My favorite memory of volunteering is my first ever Youth Court case. I was incredibly nervous beforehand but having all of the other experienced members around me, I felt completely relaxed. After we worked with the defendant and gave him his sentence, I felt a sense of accomplishment.  Now, with every case, I still feel good about helping out and giving these kids a second chance in life. 

I think volunteering is important because it gives everyone a chance to do some good. Not to mention that it also has a positive effect on everyone involved.

Megan Renzi (senior): 

Besides my work with the school’s organizations such as the National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society and SALTY Hands, I volunteer with the Putnam County Youth Board. 

My favorite memory of volunteering is the response I got at the Putnam County Legislative Forum after speaking about the need for a Youth Center in our community. As people clapped and nodded in agreement, I was reminded that my voice is valid and will hopefully one day make a difference in the lives of the youth in my town. 

I think it is important to volunteer because you can make a big difference in someone’s life while also making a positive impact on the community.

Emily Rusinko (senior):

I volunteer with 4H, Dragon and Crane and Brewster High School.

My favorite memory is fair prep with my friend Saoirse. We have volunteered together for years and she makes simple tasks — like washing LEGOs — very fun.

I think volunteering is important because it gives people hope and brings them joy. 

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