LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Liberty Hall stage is set to welcome five Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence candidates for the 2017 Youth of the Year ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 26. This serves as a premier local event for more than 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs across the country, and this year’s Lawrence showcase will feature Zion Bowlin, Ruth Gathunguri, Treven Hall, Christian Lapointe and, reigning Kansas Youth of the Year, Jazmyne McNair.
The program will begin at 7 p.m. and is free for the public to attend.
Presented this year by title sponsor Peoples Bank, Youth of the Year is warmly regarded as an all-time favorite at the Club. The event is a culmination of not only months of hard work by the candidates and their mentors – but also celebrates life-long relationships that kids develop with the Boys & Girls Club. Those who earn the Youth of the Year title embody the values of leadership service, academic excellence and healthy lifestyles. They exemplify the powerful impact that the Boys & Girls Club has on kids in Lawrence.
“This event – this program as a whole – is the best thing we do,” said Executive Director Colby Wilson. “These kids start with the Boys & Girls Club when they are young, and if we have the impact we hope to have, they grow up with us and eventually participate in the Youth of the Year journey as incredible young adults. We are fortunate to work with this group, and we really hope you can join us to celebrate them.”
A panel of judges (Almarie Chalmers, Margy Frederick, Kevin Willmott, Terry Campbell, Katrina Chapman, Jamie Gordon, Stefanie Bryant, Laura “Bird” Kuhn and Myrone Grady) will spend the afternoon of Jan. 26 interviewing each candidate and finalizing evaluations of each of their essays and short answer questions. When the curtain goes up at 7 p.m., each candidate will be ready to deliver individual speeches to the audience.
The judges will conclude the competition by announcing the winner, who will then represent Lawrence in the state competition. State winners advance to regional competitions; regional winners advance to the National Youth of the Year event.
Zion Bowlin is a familiar name among the sports community in Lawrence as the captain of the Free State High School football and baseball teams. He was the 2016 team MVP on the FSHS baseball team and an All-State first team honoree. On the football field, Bowlin was named All-League first team and recorded the longest rush in team history. He started at Boys & Girls Club at the Deerfield Elementary site. Bowlin is the son of Craig Bowlin and Charlie Woody, and the proud grandson of Catherine Born. He has received athletic scholarship offers, and has narrowed his college decision to Baker, Emporia State or Wichita State.
The youngest of the 2017 candidates, Ruth Gathunguri certainly appears older and wiser than her sophomore status at Free State High School. The daughter of Faith Gathunguri and Gilbert Karuga, she went to the Boys & Girls Club Quail Run site in her younger days. Gathunguri is a member of the FSHS swim team, the Firebird Marching Band and the debate team – lettering in all three as a freshman. She also is active on the student council and volunteers at Boys & Girls Club. Gathunguri plans to attend Columbia University and major in business.
A junior at Free State High School, Treven Hall is passionate about making music with unique sounds for unique listeners. He has made his mark in the arts at FSHS and aspires to have a career in information technology. Hall plans to attend Johnson County Community College as an IT major. The son of David Hall and Sandrire Smith, Hall started his Boys & Girls Club days at Pinckney BGC.
A dedicated musical talent, Christian LaPointe is a junior at Free State High School. He is a member of the FSHS Chamber Choir and the Spirito Choir of Kansas City. Fittingly, LaPointe hopes to build a career in choral conducting. He plans to attend Kansas State University as a music education major. LaPointe got his Boys & Girls Club start at the Deerfield Elementary site. He was recently adopted by his aunt and uncle, Shannon and Chris Miller, and is the son of James LaPointe and Nancy Miller.
Jazmyne McNair has represented the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence tirelessly throughout the last year. After claiming the Lawrence title in Jan. 2016, McNair was named the Kansas Youth of the Year in March, traveled to the Southwest Regional Youth of the Year event in Dallas in June and attended the Advanced Leadership Institute for Boys & Girls Clubs of America in September. McNair is back for the Lawrence competition in 2017, already equipped with a full-ride scholarship to Coe College in Iowa as the Williston Jones Diversity Leadership Scholarship award winner. The daughter of Melissa Johnson, McNair will begin her career aspirations of becoming a choral director this fall. A senior at Lawrence High School, McNair is heavily involved in her school and community as a member of the Chorale, A Cappella choir, orchestra, forensics, Young Feminists Club and the Black Lives Matter movement.
For additional information or to make media arrangements, contact Director of Marketing and Communications Alissa Bauer at firstname.lastname@example.org.