ACT announced the winners of the 2023 Youth Appreciation Awards, which recognize local youth for their leadership and efforts to make the community a healthier and kinder place.
Educators and youth-serving professionals were encouraged to nominate young people who demonstrate leadership by offering help to those in need, making a difference through service and activism, or showing determination and resilience in overcoming life challenges.
Four local students received the Youth Appreciation Award:
Myla Coyne, a fifth grader at Village School of North Bennington, received the elementary-level award. Myla’s nomination commended her passion for learning and kindness with peers. In the words of her nominator, “She is a friend to all.”
Sage Betit, an eighth grader at Mt. Anthony Union Middle School, earned the award for the middle school level. Sage was described by her nominator as “a champion for LGBTQ+ youth at the school,” who uses her voice and writing to advocate for herself and others.
Masihullah Hisari, a sophomore at Mt. Anthony Union High School, received the high school-level underclassman award. Masihullah was recognized for his resilience and efforts to support and care for his family while resettling in the U.S. as refugees.
Lauren “Ether” Austin, a senior at Mt. Anthony Union High School, received the high school-level senior award. Lauren was commended for creating the Disability Student Alliance at MAU, which advocates for and educates others on students with disabilities. Their efforts have contributed to advancing equity and inclusion within the school community.
“These young people are all an inspiration, which made judging an almost impossible task. Every nominee is doing amazing things that make our community a better place. It has been an honor to participate in this process. I can’t wait to see what these leaders do next,” said Tom Haley, vice chair of the Bennington Select Board.
Additionally, several students received Certificates of Appreciation: Meredith Dame, Emily Grace Maynard, Aliyah I., Kohen Peters-Graskey, Sophie Kaufer, Morgan K., Erica J., Elizabeth O’Dee, and Jamie M.
“All of the youth nominees are shining stars in my opinion. I hope all of the nominees are proud of their achievements and continue on their journey of being change makers in whatever they do in life,” said Camille Kauffman, Director of Paran Recreations.
Students were honored at school award ceremonies.