Honoring 20 of Mahoning County's top young leaders on the evening of April 8 was the goal of the inaugural 20 Under 20 award banquet. The event was sponsored by Town Crier Community Newspapers and Akron Children's Hospital Mahoning Valley in partnership with Parent Magazine and the Tribune Chronicle.
At the event, 20 honorees were given a special award in the form of a red glass flame, signifying the burning desire of these young leaders to make a difference in their community. The honorees had each taken on projects to help others and to serve their schools and communities, ranging from mentoring younger students to raising funds for non-profit organizations.
One common denominator in each of the honorees lives was ''being involved.'' Each has taken on a busy lifestyle that includes school, athletics, and multiple community involvements. Each had learned to manage his or her time through well-planned scheduling.
Town Crier / Jim McCreary
Mahoning County's best and brightest were honored for leadership at a banquet on April 8 at The Georgetown. Presented by the Town Crier Newspapers, Akron Children's Hospital Mahoning Valley and the Tribune Chronicle, the inaugural class of Mahoning's Twenty Under 20 includes, in front, Max Morrow, Alan Burns, Christina Garcia, Murphy Sharp, Akeera Mitchell, Skylar Berger; in second row, Michele Whiteleather, Richard Jenkins, Marcus Marcello, Michael Angiolelli, Victoria Armour, Zack Cain; and in back, Drew Bennett, Ernest Barkett, Zachary While, Scott Erb, Christian Moore, Emily Erb and Tradaiza Merchant. Missing from the photo is Kent Hilderbrand. To view and purchase additional photos from the event, visit our CU website at http://cu.tribtoday.com/Events/Mahoning-20-Under-20.
The honorees began their 20 Under 20 journey by being nominated. From the nomination applications, the top 20 were elected based on 50 percent community service, 25 percent extracurricular activities and 25 percent academic achievement.
''It's a very difficult job when you have to judge these incredible young people,'' said Charles Jarvis, Tribune Chronicle and Town Crier publisher.
At the banquet, the top five were selected. They each received a check for $125 that would be donated to their favorite charity in their name. The top five award winners were: Michael Angiolelli of Poland, Ernest Barkett of Canfield, Alan Burns of Boardman, Christian Moore of Salem and Murphy Sharp of Youngstown.
The honorees-Local youths recognized at the inaugural 20 Under Twenty ceremony:
* Akeera Mitchell, Youngstown Early College
* Alan Burns, Boardman
* Christian Moore, South Range
* Christina Garcia, Youngstown Early College
* Drew Bennett, Canfield
* Emily Erb, South Range
* Ernest Barkett, Canfield
* Kent Hilderbrand, South Range
* Marcus Masello, Boardman
* Max Morrow, Boardman
* Michael Angiolelli, Cardinal Mooney
* Michele Whiteleather, Canfield
* Murphy Sharp, Cardinal Mooney
* Richard Jenkins, Canfield
* Scott Erb, South Range
* Skylar Berger, Youngstown Early College
* Tradaiza Merchant, Austintown Fitch
* Victoria Armour, Austintown Fitch
* Zach Cain, Springfield Local
* Zachary While, Austintown Fitch
From the top five, Sharp, a Cardinal Mooney senior, was selected as this year's winner and she received a $500 check for her favorite charity. Sharp had formed Project Uganda after establishing contact through St. Christine's Church with Father Leo of Uganda. There was a dire need for fresh water through the construction of rain collection wells. In the past two years she and a best friend have raised $6,000 of the $9,000 needed for the well.
At the banquet, Sharp got to meet and talk with the other 20 Under 20 nominees and learn of their experiences. She was impressed.
''This event is truly inspiring,'' she said. ''It's refreshing to see so many others working to do good in the community and in the world.''
Top five award winner Michael Angiolelli of Poland, also a Cardinal Mooney student, was impressed with Sharp's project, and he made a spur-of-the-moment decision at the banquet.
''As soon as I heard we could give money to a charitable organization, Project Uganda is where I wanted it to go,'' he said.
Moore, a South Range senior, is an avid gardener and has devoted himself to helping others through his agricultural endeavors. He said everyone should be giving back.
''I encourage every single person to volunteer, and when things get rough, keep with it,'' he said.
Barkett, a senior at Canfield Canfield High School, said it is about making a difference.
''I really love extra-curricular activities,'' he said. ''It's helping other people change their lives. That is why we do this.''
Burns, a senior from Boardman High School, thanked his parents, teachers and coaches for helping make him the person he is today. He was not alone as each of the 20 Under 20 candidates expressed gratitude for their family as well.
''It takes a lot of family support to do community service,'' said Jarvis. He said the design of the 20 Under 20 award was chosen to be a reminder to ''keep the flame burning.''
Representing Akron Children's Hospital Mahoning Valley at the banquet were Injury Prevention Coalition Coordinator Gia Ramsey and Gayle Wanamaker from the Community Outreach, Education and Support Center at ACH. Both were impressed with the quality of the 20 honorees.
''We're so proud of all the work and accomplishments that each, in their own way, have achieved,'' Ramsey said. ''A lot of these kids have worked through Akron Children's Hospital and it is nice to see them serving as role models.''
Jarvis closed the event by saying he hopes this will be the first of many 20 Under 20 events in the coming years.