“The Rotary Youth Leadership Awards are a vital part of our community's vibrancy, and with the students recognized through this program, our future is truly bright,” said Joseph De Vito, president and CEO of The Village Bank, a partner sponsor of the Rotary Club of Weston and Wayland along with Atlantic Advisory Group. 

On February 16, 2023, our club recognized eleven sophomores  for their generous contributions to our communities. Bentley Bassick is the first student from Dana Hall School in Wellesley to receive the award. Jordan Haims attends The Rivers School in Weston. Alyssa Ao, Bowen Morrison, Pariplavi Sontha, Rachel Goldstone, and Reece Davies, Pariplavi Sontha and Zachary Thoen attend Wayland High School. Nate Whitworth, Oliver Moon and Sarah Zhang are Weston High School sophomores. 
Over dinner at the Weston Golf Club, the students spoke to Rotary members, parents, principals and business executives about the wide variety of community service initiatives they had completed, earning them nominations from impressed members of our communities. The evening’s festivities included each winner highlighting the service projects that led to their selection, along with  informal table-by-table chats as Rotarians, students, and their families learned more about each other and how our club might help further each student’s service activities.

Many of the students will attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Award conference in June with 200 other high-impact rising juniors from Massachusetts. 

The Rotary Youth Leadership Award winners prioritize "service above self," which will be a positive factor when they apply to college. According to Marcy Fischer of Collegiate Coach, who is sponsoring one student to attend the conference, "service is an important factor in the college admissions process, demonstrating a student's commitment to positively impacting their community and beyond. These students have already distinguished themselves." 
The award-winning students celebrated at the February, 2023 event include: 
  • Alyssa Ao is an active member of several community service groups, including Girl Scouts, where she is working on her Gold Award project. She is a member of the Wayland Student Corps and the National Arts Honors Society. She led various community service events, organized holiday concerts at Sunrise of Wayland, a senior living center, as well as  a charity sale this summer that raised over a thousand dollars for Cradles to Crayons. Alyssa is co-president of the Art Club and designs artwork as Graphics Editor for the Wayland Student Press Network. Every Sunday, she volunteers as a teaching assistant for a class that helps young students learn how to play chess.
  • Bentley Bassick was moved to do something about homelessness after visits to Boston. She found Winter Walk, brought it to her school, and hosted  the head of the program to speak about  the importance of understanding the plight of the homeless. She has mobilized Dana Hall to participate as a school and led the effort to raise funds and awareness. 
  • Bowen Morrison's work at Camp Arrowhead demonstrates his commitment to “service above self.”  His kind-hearted spirit shines in his work with people with disabilities. Bowen volunteered for three weeks in 2022 and plans to return in 2023. Additionally, he and his family have formed a team for the Run to Home Base, which supports the Home Base program that serves veterans and their families.  
  • Jordan Haims has volunteered with the Heated Lions for six years, coaching those with special abilities in basketball. He is the program’s head volunteer coordinator, and is on the Board. He has also volunteered with special abilities baseball, the Challenger League, for seven years. He led the Rivers School program hosting a Special Olympics basketball tournament. He is also looking to start the Wo-City anglers program, introducing kids in Worcester to the joys of fishing.
  • Nate Whitworth leads by example. He is on the Student Council and is team captain of the boy's junior varsity soccer team. He is the first to volunteer to help carry the giant Gatorade container (by history, this is a freshman role and never a captain's role). When asked who is the most respected kid in the class, sophomores identify Nate.
  • Oliver Moon has volunteered at Drumlin Farm, Land's Sake Farm, and the Weston Rec center, where he worked with children attending summer camp for several years. He has also volunteered at Cradles to Crayons and the Rotary's Christmas Tree sale. He clearly demonstrates his commitment to academics, athletics, and his graduating class  in the time and energy he dedicates to each as a student, teammate, volunteer, and leader. He is a young man motivated to help others! 
  • Pariplavi Sontha is a student mentor/leader for our non-auditioned chorus. She helps lead sectionals, helps prepare students for auditions, and also learns the non-auditioned chorus repertoire as another voice in the choir. Pari always goes above and beyond and gladly serves others. She also works hard to challenge herself and has taken the initiative to learn a German lieder song and some Italian art songs. Pari realized this year that she wants to be a teacher because she likes helping people. This year, she also joined the Tri-M Music Honor Society to help serve others in our community.
  • Rachel Goldstone is always willing to help, whether raising money for student scholarships for a trip to France or helping in her temple teaching kids. She is also an active member of her temple youth group and a member of the soccer team.
  • Reece Davies is an excellent and passionate soccer player and coach. He volunteered to assist novice adult coaches with limited soccer experience to guide a Wayland M6 soccer team. He attended twice weekly practices and games for the entire season and was a positive, enthusiastic role model for the boys. He taught the boys fundamentals and connected with them personally, providing the perfect bridge between coach and player. Reece gave up over 50 hours of his time and was an invaluable help to our team. 
  • Sarah Zhang is a member of the Weston High School Principal's Advisory Council, where she advises Principal Peri on the issues most important to the student body and  helps him obtain  student input in order to  address the school’s most important challenges.  During Covid, Sarah served as Co-Head of Distribution of KPP (Kids Print to Protect) - KPP group 3D printed over 2,000 face shields and distributed them to frontline health workers at various hospitals. Additionally, Sarah launched a small crochet business on Etsy to raise money to donate to children with medically related hair loss. She has volunteered for Weston Pumpkin Fest, at her church as a teaching assistant, and at senior centers with piano performances, choir singing, and craft activities. She has co-directed and choreographed a musical show performance 'Alice in Wonderland' for a group of 20 gymnasts. 
  • Zachary Thoen is on a path to becoming an Eagle Scout, which requires 14 months of leadership work. Zack has been the Senior Patrol Leader on many weekend outings, where he is in charge  of the Scouts, including assigning assistants to support him, communicating clear expectations, planning meals for the group, and being the first point of contact for the Scouts before contacting an adult. Sometimes, Zack likely wanted to go to bed, but until his Patrol was safely in tents for the night, he stayed up and worked through issues as they arose, which they always do.