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Two Nevada Youth Honored for Volunteerism at National Award Ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Olympic Snowboarding Champion Seth Wescott Pay Tribute to Lovelock and Las Vegas Students as Part of Four-Day Recognition Events

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Two Nevada students, Bridgett McLean, 18, of Lovelock and Elizabeth Keane, 13, of Las Vegas, were honored in the nation’s capital last night for their outstanding volunteer work during the presentation of The 2010 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. The two young people – along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – received $1,000 awards as well as personal congratulations from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Olympic snowboarding champion Seth Wescott at the 15th annual award ceremony and gala dinner reception, held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Bridgett and Elizabeth were named the top high school and middle level youth volunteers in Nevada last February. In addition to their cash awards, they received engraved silver medallions and an all-expense-paid trip with their parents to Washington, D.C., for this week’s recognition events.

“The Prudential Spirit of Community honorees give us great hope for the future,” said Dr. Rice. “Their compassion and commitment are already making a real difference in so many lives, and I have no doubt that their leadership will continue to positively impact the world for many years to come.”

Bridgett, a senior at Pershing County High School, assembled 32 “Code Red” kits for all of the classrooms in her town’s elementary school to make students and teachers safer and more comfortable in the event of an emergency “lockdown.” Bridgett thought of the project when a warning bell sounded in her high school one day, signifying that either a drill or an emergency was taking place at the elementary school. “This frightened me, knowing that my little brother could possibly be in danger,” she said. She wanted teachers and children to be fully prepared in case of a true emergency.

Bridgett came up with the idea of packing the essential items a classroom would need in an emergency lockdown into a five-gallon bucket, which could also serve as a portable toilet. With input from the elementary school’s safety committee and law enforcement officials, Bridgett decided to include first aid and evacuation supplies, food and water, CPR masks, blankets, whistles, and kitty litter. She wrote letters to secure donations of many supplies, but also had to purchase items with money from her Girl Scout cookie sales. When the completed buckets were presented at the elementary school, Bridgett trained teachers in how to use them. She also wrote and distributed a brochure advising parents on what to do if their child’s school experienced a “Code Red.” “In a worst-case scenario, the Code Red kits could possibly save a child’s life,” said Bridgett.

Elizabeth, an eighth-grader at Tarkanian Middle School, started a school in her backyard where neighborhood children who are struggling academically can come for a few hours every Saturday for help with their studies. Elizabeth was so inspired by her second-grade teacher that she began building desks out of cardboard boxes and made her brother and cousins play school with her on Sunday afternoons. When she became serious about teaching, she started conducting lessons for her siblings in her grandparents’ house. As word spread, other kids asked to attend the classes, so Elizabeth’s parents and grandparents helped her build a one-room schoolhouse in her backyard.

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Now, Elizabeth teaches about 10 kids ranging from 4 to 12 years old in her schoolhouse every Saturday from noon to 2:30 p.m. She creates and executes lesson plans for the various levels of her students, and works with them individually to address particular academic needs, striving to make learning fun and interesting. Her classes also help the students build self-esteem and make new friends, said Elizabeth. “Helping these kids find joy in learning has inspired me to continue this school long term,” she said.

“Bridgett and Elizabeth are wonderful examples of young Americans who care about the world around them and have taken the initiative to improve that world,” said John R. Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. “We salute their effort, their achievements, and their spirit of community.”

More than 21,000 young people submitted applications for the 2010 awards program last fall through schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of the Points of Light Institute’s HandsOn Network. The top middle level and high school applicants in each state were selected in February and flown to Washington this week with their parents for four days of special recognition events.

Conducted in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards were created 15 years ago by Prudential Financial to encourage youth volunteerism and to identify and reward young role models. Since then, the program has honored nearly 100,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.

“The young women and men in America’s schools are nothing short of amazing, and nowhere is this more evident than amongst this year’s award recipients,” said NASSP President Steven Pophal. “They possess a keen intellect, servant hearts, capable leadership skills, and are filled with energy and ambition. NASSP and Prudential are honored to recognize them.”

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards are supported by the American Association of School Administrators, the National Middle School Association, the National School Boards Association, the Council of the Great City Schools, Girl Scouts of the USA, National 4-H Council, the American Red Cross, YMCA of the USA, the Points of Light Institute, and other national education and service organizations.

More information about The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards and this year’s honorees can be found at http://spirit.prudential.com or www.principals.org/spirit.

In existence since 1916, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the preeminent organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and aspiring school leaders from across the United States and more than 45 countries around the world. NASSP’s mission is to promote excellence in school leadership. The National Honor Society®, National Junior Honor Society®, National Elementary Honor Society™, and National Association of Student Councils® are all NASSP programs. For more information about NASSP, located in Reston, Va., visit www.principals.org or call 703-860-0200.

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Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU) is a financial services leader with operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Leveraging its heritage of life insurance and asset management expertise, Prudential is focused on helping approximately 50 million individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth. In the United States, the company’s Rock symbol is an icon of strength, stability, expertise and innovation that has stood the test of time. Prudential's businesses offer a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds, investment management, and real estate services. For more information, visit www.news.prudential.com.

[Editors: full-color pictures of the Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions are available at spirit.prudential.com.]

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=6273423&lang=en

Prudential
Harold Banks, 973-802-8974 or 973-216-4833
or
NASSP
Robert Farrace, 703-860-7257
On May 3, 8:30 am - 4 pm EDT: 202-955-1155 or 1166

Source: Prudential Financial



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