Hundreds of people jammed the ballroom at Nora Mayo Hall Thursday morning for a continental breakfast as the Polk County School System honored its school volunteers and named the Outstanding Youth, Adult and Senior Volunteers of the Year.
Invitees included the individual school volunteers of the year, school principals, district administrators, regional assistant superintendents and Polk County district staff and school board members.
Taking home top honors were Youth Volunteer of the Year Cheyenne Prentice who volunteers at Wahneta Elementary School; Adult Elementary School Volunteer of the Year Kayleigh Mitchell, who spends her time at Padgett Elementary where she also was a student; and Senior Volunteer of the Year Jim Virgilio of Lincoln Avenue Academy.
At the secondary level, Susan Lynch was named the Outstanding Adult Volunteer of the Year from Southwest Middle School and Stephen Abney took home Senior Volunteer of the Year for his work at the East Area Adult School.
Superintendent of Schools Kathryn LeRoy lauded all volunteers, saying they helped “make the school environment engaging” for students, and “dedicate their time and energy to support our schools.”
LeRoy also told the group, “Our goal is to be an A school District within four years and we can’t do that without you and your generosity.” She added “You all spend hours working with students who are going though personal issues, tutoring, mentoring, coaching and helping sponsor clubs.
“Most importantly, you build relationships with our children. Without the trust you help us gain with the students and the community, we can’t succeed. We are all about the whole child and you help make that happen. Thank you.”
Prentice, in addition to taking college classes, volunteers with kindergarten classes, organizing space and grading papers. She also tutors and assists students with reading comprehension. Her fluency in Spanish also allows her to assist with parent-teacher information exchanges.
Mitchell also assists in the classroom, tutors students and helps with the Positive Behavior Support program.
Viriglio serves as a bus greeter, helps teachers with parcels and is in tune with student and staff needs. He works closely with the custodial and grounds crews.
Lynch works closely with the Southwest Middle School Band program and has served in numerous positions. She also plans the annual awards banquet and supervises the Christmas parade float construction.
Abney, who donates his time to the East Area Adult School, primarily tutors students as they prep for the GED test. He builds rapport, makes math easier to comprehend and projects a positive attitude.
Also feted at the awards breakfast were volunteers: Jeffrey Bargeron of Alturas Elementary School, Vicky Jenkins of Bartow Elementary Academy, Nancy Lott of Bartow High School, Clarice Roth of Bartow IB, Dorine Fox of Bartow Middle School, Dorothy Tucker of Floral Avenue Elementary, Joanne Santo of Fort Meade Middle-Senior, April Fridley of Frostproof Elementary and Michell Githens of Union Academy.