Clarkston Area Youth Assistance (CAYA) held its 2022 Youth Recognition Ceremony and Dessert Reception on April 20 at Clarkston Junior High School to recognize and celebrate 64 Clarkston-area children and youth, Kindergarten through Grade 12, for working on their own well-being/personal growth and for their concern for the well-being of others.
In attendance were over 200 family members, friends, educators, and government officials who came to congratulate these inspiring honorees who contributed to the well-being of their class, school, and community.
The event began with singing by the talented Clarkston Madrigals, led by Mike Peterson. Master of Ceremonies Julie Meredith, director of the Clarkston Independence District Library, welcomed everyone. She introduced Mary Schusterbauer, chief of Oakland County Youth Assistance, who made the sponsor comments, and Dr. Shawn Ryan, superintendent of Clarkston Community Schools, who was the keynote speaker. The affirmation readers for the ceremony included Dr. Ryan, Meredith, Staci Puzio, Clarkston Community Schools director of equity, well-being, and community partnerships, and John Bennink, then-assistant principal of Sashabaw Middle School.
The heart of every Youth Recognition Ceremony is always the affirmations describing each honoree’s accomplishments of well-being, based on the words of nominators. The affirmations this year were read aloud for everyone to hear, as each honoree crossed the stage receiving congratulations and handshakes from a long line of dignitaries, including Clarkston Community Schools administrators, Independence Township Supervisor Gerald Fisher, Independence Township Clerk Cari Neubeck, Independence Township Treasurer Rachel Loughrin, all of the speakers, and many of the nominators. Honorees also received personalized certificates from local dignitaries and their affirmation printed on a document suitable for framing.
After the ceremony, the celebration moved to the dessert reception. Delicious homemade cookies were made by Gail Ferguson, Denise McIntyre, and Sharon Roush. The fudgy brownies, becoming a Youth Recognition tradition, were provided by Belinda Seal-Sweet.
There are many others to thank and acknowledge. Clarkston Community Schools continues to be a supportive collaborative partner for the Youth Recognition Program. Puzio and Kelly Allen, CCS director of marketing and community relations, helped coordinate this partnership. Amy Seaman, CCS theater manager, made sure the lighting and sound was just right at the ceremony, and Stephan Merk, station manager for Independence Television, made sure the ceremony was recorded for those who could not attend.
Finally, the Youth Recognition Program Committee is grateful for the volunteers that helped ensure the Ceremony and Dessert Reception ran smoothly, including Rochelle McLetchie, Betty Haran, Hannah Gray, Nancy Roeder, Dede Lechel, and Liz Elias.
The 2022 Clarkston Area Youth Assistance Youth Recognition Ceremony and Dessert Reception was a remarkable evening of congratulations, pride, and smiles, where wonderful memories were made for all who attended. Each of the 64 honorees embraced the power each person has to contribute to the well-being of the community.
They are an inspiration to all of us!
Clarkston Area Youth Assistance
Youth Recognition Program Committee