Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services, Inc. (SYFS), the town of Shrewsbury's only private, nonprofit community counseling and social services agency, has announced the 2013 winners of the Outstanding Youth of Shrewsbury Awards. Four local teens – Nicholas Silverio, Kristen Grip, Aaron Hayden and Jennifer Tylock – have been announced as this year's winners. The teens were chosen based on their service to the community, leadership and accomplishments (often while dealing with challenges of their own).
These four outstanding youths will be honored at SYFS” ninth Annual Gala and Awards Dinner, to be held Saturday, Feb. 9, at St. John's High School,
Here are profiles of? Nicholas and Kristen. Profiles of Aaron and Jennifer will appear in the Feb. 1 issue of the Community Advocate.
Nicholas Silverio, Grade 12, Shrewsbury High School (SHS) – Nick is a bright and hardworking student, along with being a talented dancer, singer and choreographer. He is a student leader, a camp counselor, and an active community volunteer, but what sets Nick apart is his indomitable spirit.
According to his mother, Jennifer, “ because Nicholas always marched to a different drummer, he has had to deal with some bullying in the community. From an early age he was labeled and sometimes harassed by other children who thought it would be fun to bring him down. But Nicholas never let that happen. Instead it made him a stronger person and gave him an understanding of how it feels to be the underdog. As a result, Nick has always supported the other underdogs in our community. For this, I will be forever proud of him.”
Nick has helped both middle schools in town with their theatrical and musical productions. He volunteers in various events in town that are too numerous to list, but one of his efforts as president of the National Honor Society (NHS) deserves special mention. Last year Nick completed training at the Hospice at Notre Dame in Worcester, where he helps both geriatric and pediatric patients who are very ill or near the end of life. In addition, he coordinated a program for NHS students to volunteer in many capacities for the hospice. He has done the coordination among the school, the hospice director and staff, and the students, to make the program a success.
Nick's mom said the family has struggled due to a number of challenges in recent years, but despite all of it, Nick's spirit is unbroken and his strength is inspiring. Nick's role model is his mother.? Nick aspires to study business and dance in college and then graduate school.
Kristen Grip, Grade 11, Shrewsbury High School – ?Kristen is described as a “mentor, leader, and friend to all of her classmates” by Pamela Johnson, the nurse at Shrewsbury High School. Kristen has inspired those around her as she has faced obstacles – with courage, grace and determination – that would deter many people. A young woman who loves to play basketball and volleyball with her twin sister, Elizabeth, the road Kristen has traveled to return to active participation has been long and challenging.
Diagnosed in the eighth grade with a seizure disorder, Kristen has endured long stretches of time where she has been unable to play the sports she loves and has had to work longer and harder to maintain her academics as she has struggled with her condition and the side effects of treatment. Her teachers say she has shown remarkable commitment and dedication to stay on top of her studies, and while she was sidelined athletically last year, she was always present to enthusiastically support her teammates.
Fortunately, in the spring of 2012, doctors were able to identify the cause of Kristen's seizures.? After surgery and rehabilitation, Kristen has returned to school and sports. Today, she is seizure-free.
Kristen has volunteered at St. Anne's Thrift Store and the Mustard Seed, and participates annually in the Relay for Life. She and Elizabeth are organizing a basketball fundraising event to benefit epilepsy research.
Kristen's role model is her grandmother, who always said: “ with pride and desire and the help of God, anything is possible.” She lives by those words as she continues to strive toward her goal – attending college and finding a way to help children who face medical challenges.
Tickets to the gala are $85 (tax deductible) and can be purchased online at http://www.syfs-ma.org, over the phone with a credit card, or in person at SYFS, 240 Maple Avenue, Shrewsbury with cash, check or credit card.? Space is limited.
(Photos/courtesy of Joyce Maranto of Maranto Studios in Northborough)