Seniors Spencyr Aronson, Maya Kaplan and Sophie Lettes have been selected by local newspaper Atlanta INtown for the paper’s “20 Under 20” list. In addition, junior Michael Fu was recognized as a runner-up. Every year, Atlanta INtown compiles a list of 20 students who have been outstanding volunteers in their communities. Many of these students have donated their time and energy to philanthropies that they are passionate about while others have created their own nonprofit organizations. The goal of this list in Atlanta INtown’s January issue is to recognize those who are working to make the world a better place.
To choose this list of students, Atlanta INtown editors reached out to different service organizations, public and private schools. After receiving over 80 nominations, Atlanta INtown narrowed the list down to 20 honorees and 15 runners-up.
Kaplan and Aronson were recognized for their work with the Covenant House, an organization that offers housing and support for young people who are homeless in the Atlanta community. The Covenant House hosts an annual “Sleep Out” where volunteers sleep outside for a night while raising funds and awareness for the issue of youth homelessness. Kaplan and Aronson not only participated in the 2018 “Sleep Out,” but also went on to become a part of the Covenant House’s Scholars in Service organization where they connected with businesses, friends and family to fundraise for Covenant House and spread awareness about the issue of youth homelessness.
After four months, Aronson and Kaplan raised over $50,000 and won the Scholars in Service scholarship award. This money allowed the Covenant House to start the Post-Secondary Education Fund, giving young people greater access to college through funding from the Covenant House. “No matter how big or insurmountable any problem seems, there is always something that can be done to help find a solution,” said Aronson.
Lettes was also recognized as an honoree for her work on the Isdell Center for Global Leadership (ICGL) Council. Lettes played an important role in the move towards composting in the Pace cafeteria and has helped plan different events for the ICGL Council to educate the student body about the environment. “Even though I didn’t expect it at all, it was such an honor to be recognized as one of the 20 under 20 for Pace,” said Lettes.
Throughout high school, Lettes has been passionate about the environment. “I love ICGL because we can really change our community in huge ways and have so much freedom to implement whatever we’re interested in,” she said. “For me, it was composting but the best part is we all have a say and that’s how so many incredible changes have been made at Pace to be more sustainable and involve the student body.”
Fu was recognized as a runner up for creating the nonprofit organization Scholarly Chess, which encourages kids to play chess and hosts chess tournaments throughout the year. Fu not only co-founded the organization, but also created the app VEMS which is a new program to help students log their volunteer hours; this app won the LexisNexis championship award.