Meet the 2013 SYFS Outstanding Youth of Shrewsbury Award recipients

Aaron Hayden

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,

Jennifer Tylock


Here are profiles of Aaron and Jennifer. Profiles of Nicholas and Kristen appeared in the Jan. 25 issue of the Community Advocate and may also be viewed at

Aaron Hayden, Grade 12, Saint John's High School – Aaron Hayden is described by his principal, Dr. Jacob Conca, as “extremely compassionate and trustworthy,” a student who shows great care and concern for others. Dr. Conca says Aaron is the first to volunteer and the last to leave when work needs doing. He is the student who can be counted on to show up and make sure things are in great shape before an event so that others will enjoy, and when the last of the guests leave, Aaron stays behind to fold up the chairs and turn out the lights. He is an unsung star, not looking for praise or credit; a guy who rolls up his sleeves and with a smile on his face, does what needs doing.

Aaron is an avid sports enthusiast who has managed the basketball team for four years. He is devoted to the team, making it to all games, home and away. He videotapes the basketball games and many of the lacrosse games so that tapes can be studied and players can learn. This year Aaron led a retreat for sophomores, and by sharing some of his own challenges, he helped the younger students learn to cope and deal with the obstacles in their lives. He is empathetic, selfless and caring.

Aaron volunteers at St. Peter's Parish in Worcester and is a student leader of the Worcester County Young Writer's Conference. He has worked at the St. John's Summer Camp for several years and through his work with the young children there, Aaron has shown his gentle nature and sense of humor. Aaron played on the football team at St. John's and aspires to major in business in college.

It is with enthusiasm, humility and humanity that we honor Aaron with this award.

Jennifer Tylock, Grade 12, Shrewsbury High School – “Jen Tylock is an amazing young woman,” said Jessica Rice, her guidance counselor at SHS. “Not only has she made her mark academically, she also stands out as an athlete, leader and humanitarian.”? Jen has faced many challenges since being diagnosed with Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, a rare genetic disorder that causes loss of vision, when she was in the eighth grade. Jen is legally blind, but this has not hindered her in any way. Academically, Jen takes a rigorous course load. Her GPA of 4.94 attests to her hard work and determination to succeed.

Jen is an inspiration to her teammates. She is a runner and pole vaulter who was elected Captain of the Girls Track Team and participated in the Summer Leadership Program.? She qualified for and competed in the New England Championships in pole vault. In addition to academics and athletics, Jen also volunteers in the Children's Room at the Shrewsbury Public Library and works with teams in the Destination Imagination program. She was selected last year from a nationwide pool of students to travel to Cambodia to do volunteer work with the U.S. State Department.

To add a little fun to life, Jen has also attended circus camp. She can play the French horn, juggle, ride on a unicycle and walk a tightrope! Like her role model, Erick Weihenmayer, one of the most accomplished adventurers in the world who has re-defined what it means to be blind; Jennifer Tylock will accomplish everything she sets her mind to. In the words of her guidance counselor, “Jen is a quiet champion, is fearless, and has a huge heart.” She wants to study engineering in college and join the Peace Corps after college.

Tickets to the gala are $85 (tax deductible) and can be purchased online at, 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.