2018 Young Citizen of the Year
This Westie is awarded to a high school student in the Westlake area who has contributed time, energy, and heart to both their school community and the Westlake community at large. It is in recognition of their outstanding contributions through community service activities that have made them an inspirational role model for other students in the Westlake community.
Finalist: Blake Sbrocco
Leave things better than you find them. Blake was taught this early and strives to maintain this philosophy. In school, it has meant serving his class as their President since the 7th grade, organizing multiple events and representing both Westlake High School and Westridge Middle School in various capacities. In his community, this has meant volunteering over 300 hours through the Westlake chapter of Young Men’s Service League that he helped found. To the state of Texas, that has meant serving our Governor as a political intern and data assistant for the past two years.
While in high school, Blake has been recognized several times for his leadership, philanthropy, academic and extra-curricular achievements by receiving awards including the Chaparral Champion Award, the Algebra Excellence Award and Student Spotlight Award. In 2016, he was honored with the Outstanding Service Award for traveling to California with school administrative staff to discuss how schools can be improved nationwide.
Blake’s leadership expands throughout his school years. As Class President since 7th Grade, Blake has been the head representative for each class and responsible for proposing and developing projects for the entire grade. Projects have included a GoFundMe account which raised over a thousand dollars for the victims of the Sutherland Springs church shooting in 2017; live outdoor lunches to promote a stress-free environment for students; a school supply drive that collected over $10,000 worth of supplies for the victims of the Louisiana floods; and a “Chaps Spotlight”, recognizing students that may never be recognized by their peers without the benefit of positive social media. In 2018, instead of participating in the April school walkout that was happening nationwide, Blake purposed a silent prayer vigil on campus for students to come and silently pray for 17 minutes (one minute for each student’s life)with over 250 in attendance. Additional responsibilities that have been entrusted to Blake have been assignments to the Campus Leadership Team for three years, the Challenge Success Conference Campus Representative (one of two students were chosen to accompany the school principal at Stanford University) and the Interview committee for a new High School Assistant Principal.
As a founder of the Westlake Chapter of Young Men’s Service League, Blake received the Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award for 200+ hours of service. Organizations that Blake has served includes Central Texas Food Bank, Ronald McDonald House, Mobile Loaves and Fishes, Foundation Communities, Community First! and Safe Place.
Finalist: Nolan Screen
Throughout Nolan Screen’s time with the Westlake High School Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Boy Scouts, St. John Neumann Church, The Austin-Travis County EMS (ATCEMS) Explorer program and several other organizations, Nolan has done many community service projects and realizes the impact he has had in his community. The CERT program has also allowed Nolan to grow his knowledge of the medical field, as well as his leadership skills. In the CERT class, Nolan has been an officer on the CERT Executive board for the past two years and has led medical response teams at football games and other sporting events. Also, this past October during the water emergency in Austin, Nolan lead a team of CERT members that distributed water to those who did have water throughout our community.
In Nolan’s Boy Scout Troop, Troop 30, he has earned Eagle Scout rank and served over 800 community service hours which included 50 Mobile Loaves and Fishes runs where he distributed meals and clothing to those in need, a public safety day and a car show for the Westlake Community. Nolan says that he has worked hard to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout and hopes it will help him to continue to serve others in a manner the makes our community closer, kinder and stronger. Faith is very important to Nolan. At his church, St. John Neumann Catholic Church, Nolan works to learn more about his faith and how to serve others through various ministries. This is an important part of his life. Nolan says that his faith has taught him how to be compassionate, loving and kind. For the past 10 years, he has been an alter server. For the past 4 years, he has taught bible study to middle schoolers. With EMS, Nolan is Captain in the ATCEMS EMS explorer program for the past year and been with the program for four years. During that time, he has accumulated over 200 hours in the field doing ride-outs with ambulance crews and has led efforts to teach the community vital medical skills such as CPR, and how to stop bleeding in emergency situations.
Nolan’s goal is to live a faithful life and be successful. He will also strive to do the best he can to help other people and make them happy. While he is still not sure what he would like to do (be a paramedic in EMS or TV broadcasting), Nolan says that whatever he ends up doing after college, he will certainly always help others and plans to live out the Scout values, Scout oath and the Scout law.
Finalist: Sydney Melnick
Sydney Melnick has been doing community service for as long as she can remember. Working towards healing the world is a cornerstone of her religious and family values. She works with her community to volunteer in Mitzvah Day projects throughout the year. A particular project that meant a lot to her was making challah for people who are hungry. Sydney is active in an international Jewish youth group called B’Nai B’Rith Youth Organization. After serving in many executive roles, Sydney is now serving as the President of her Austin chapter. As President, Sydney leads and facilitates all fundraising and volunteering. Her chapter has chosen to focus on hunger and they have successfully raised thousands of dollars for their cause. Members of the chapter fundraise, collect and prepare food for the hungry. They’ve also supported Ronald McDonald house by cooking meals for the families. Sydney has also created an educational hunger program highlighting the difficulties of everyday life. As a community leader, Sydney volunteers her time to help fellow Jewish teens find themselves and their way of Judaism. She attends summer leadership programs and regional conventions to learn ways to help her chapter and community.
Sydney also supports the work done by the Austin Humane Society as a no-kill shelter. As a vegetarian, Sydney feels a responsibility to help animals in need. For many years during the weekends, Sydney and her mom would care for the dogs by preparing them for adoption.
At Westlake High School, Sydney is a teen teacher, which is a unique experiential leadership class. Enrollment is limited, and students are selected based on recommendations. The teen teachers pledge to be drug and alcohol free role models for their peers and younger students. They work as buddies to younger Eanes ISD children and facilitate the transitional programs for them at Live Oak and Pedernales.
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