Weston and Wayland students connect with communities

The Rotary Club of Weston and Wayland presented the Rising Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) on Jan. 24 to Julia Kofman of Weston and Abigail Gavron, who lives in Framingham and studies in Wayland because her parents work in the school system. Both students also received citations from the Massachusetts House of Representatives and their representatives, Alice Peisch and Maria Robinson.

Robinson represents Framingham and was inaugurated on Jan. 2, 2019. Amazingly, Rep. Robinson’s attendance coincided with one of the winner’s commitment to working for her on issues they both prioritize.


Kofman was nominated by Weston High School junior Robert Mosher, one of the student leaders of the Interact Club that is focused on community service, saying, “Julia has demonstrated significant commitment to Weston’s Rotary Interact Club and is a vocal participant in our meetings. Each week she arrives on time in the early morning, remains on task, and contributes positively to our discussions and planning sessions. No matter how stressful school can be, she is one of the students we know we can count on.”

Rotarian Rob Mosher, who is the advisor to the Interact Club, added, “Julia helped organize the Interact Holiday Movie Night. It raised funds for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, which provides legal assistance for refugees stranded at the U.S. border. She also served dinner at Bristol Lodge recently, and volunteered at the Rotary’s Antique & Classic Car Show.”

Outside of school, Kofman volunteers at the John M. Barry Boys & Girls Club in Newton, where she often tutors native Spanish-speaking children in English.

“I only learned to speak English when I started school, so I understand what these children are going through and know how to help them,” she said. “I feel a responsibility to give back to others who I may relate to who are not in the same position in terms of their finances or access to education.”

She has recently begun working with RESULTS, an NGO based in D.C. that advocates for legislature and national budget allocation toward specific issues of poverty.

“I am being trained in advocacy, and am discussing organizing a club in (Weston High School) where I can teach my advocacy skills and we can focus on communicating with our representatives on RESULTS-sponsored issues,” she said.

Kofman’s extracurricular interests led to an unprecedented interaction during the awards presentation. Previously, Kofman had reached out to state Rep. Maria Robinson seeking an informational interview to become an intern. After speaking briefly about her services interests, Kofman pitched Robinson personally and directly in front of the 50-person audience. Robinson and Kofman interacted extensively and planned follow-up conversations. The audience watched, and then applauded both boisterously.

Kofman inspired the audience by stepping forward to take advantage of a unique opportunity. Similarly, Abigail Gavron has participated fully in the Wayland community while a resident of Framingham.

Gavron was nominated by Erin Ryan, softball coach and assistant athletic director, and Jay Moody, teacher of entrepreneurship, creativity, problem solving and invention.

According to Moody, Gavron has been learning about leadership through study and direct experience. In the summer of 2017, she attended a youth-to-youth leadership conference at Bryant University. She attended MIAA leadership conferences in 2017 and 2018. At Wayland High School, she is a member of the Class of 2021′s executive board.

Ryan saw “natural leadership when Abby was a freshman starter on the varsity softball team last spring. From the first day of tryouts to the last day of the season, her drive and self-motivation, as well as her genuine desire to see others succeed, stood out. She is always ready and willing to do anything and everything for the team. When asked what position she wanted to play at the beginning of the season, she listed catcher first. Due to the needs of the team, her speed and natural athletic ability, Abby ended up starting in centerfield for the majority of the season. Her teammates recognized her commitment to the team by voting her captain for this coming spring as a sophomore.”

Gavron volunteers frequently in various roles. At Traditions in Wayland, she has played bingo with the residents regularly on Sunday nights. She volunteered as a coach at the Yarmouth Colts camp in Maine and at Champion Soccer School in Wayland, and also teaches viola to elementary school students weekly.

Gavron has learned that it’s possible to serve in many ways. “When I was younger I always associated community service with raising money and donating it to different causes. Over the past couple of years, I have realized that donating time is just as important, and possibly more valuable, than donating money. I enjoy spending time with the kids and seniors and I love being able to put a smile on their faces. This might be the most important thing I’ve learned about community service.”

Amy Werner, senior vice president of The Village Bank, was a first-time guest in the RYLA award ceremony. She observed that “Julia and Abigail’s ability to balance their coursework, extracurricular activities and give back to their communities through service is impressive. What struck me most from both of these girls was the admiration shared between the girls and their respective families. The strong foundation at home has allowed Julia and Abigail to grow into wonderful, generous members of our community.”

The Rotary Club’s Rising Youth Leadership Award recognizes sophomores from Weston and Wayland for community service and leadership that demonstrates the students’ appreciation of the Rotary ideal of “service above self.” Any sophomore who lives or studies in Weston or Wayland can be nominated by a member of the community (including teachers, coaches, administrators, advisors, students or community leaders) online at WestonWaylandRotary.com. Multiple nominations are encouraged. All nominations submitted at any time are considered each month.