The nominations are in, and soon the recipients of the 2022 Caring Youth Awards will be announced by the Hopkins and Lake Minnetonka school districts.
“The event has been going on many years,” says Jen Kopischke, Hopkins Community Education’s Enrichment supervisor. “It’s a way to recognize students that have been doing great work in our communities, specifically high school students.”
To be considered a Caring Youth, student nominees in grades seven through 12 must first identify a need within their community and volunteer to help address that need. But rather than calling it a day at that point, this is where a Caring Youth is just getting started.
As part of the guidelines, nominees’ passion for their service or volunteer project should push them to go above and beyond. Over the years, students’ interests have led them to volunteer across Hopkins, the Lake Minnetonka area and Golden Valley with projects that run the gambit from beautifying local parks with cleanup efforts to volunteering time with the ICA Food Shelf in Minnetonka.
“People in the community nominate students they know either through volunteering with them, being a part of their project or for the good work that they’ve been doing with them,” Kopischke says. As part of the event’s stipulations, students must be nominated by a member of the organization at which they volunteered or someone closely involved with the student’s volunteer project. (And although you may be a proud parent of a local kid doing good, you cannot nominate your own family members.)
Once all the forms have been collected, a committee—including Kopischke and Jaleeza Smith-Breedlove, Hopkins Community Education’s Youth Programs coordinator—reviews the nominations. “They’ll be selected by the committee based on their personal commitment and their positive impact on the community,” Smith-Breedlove says, noting that there’s no set number of winners that the committee can decide to honor.
After the recipients are announced, it’s time to celebrate. This year’s award ceremony will be held February 24, and after 2021’s virtual event, Kopischke says that they are looking forward to an in person award ceremony at the Minnetonka Community Center.
“We’re expecting somewhere around 100 to 150 [guests],” Kopischke says. The crowd is made up of student nominees, their parents and the community members who nominated them. “There’s usually city council representatives, staff from schools and organization members who have students who were nominated,” Smith-Breedlove says.
Learn more about the nomination process at minnetonkaschools.org.
For a list of this year’s winners, check our Instagram @lakeminnetonkamag after the award’s ceremony.