Young Alums Receive Alumni Service Award

Published : Monday, December 3, 2012 | 10:28 AM

“At its Homecoming Liturgy, La Salle High School Director of Student Life Ed O’Connor announced two recent La Salle alums have been awarded Alumni Service Award. Here is a report on O’Connor’s remarks:”

“Six years ago, while our honorees were seniors at La Salle, we began a tradition of honoring younger alums who continue to do service in the community after graduating from both La Salle and college. So, today we welcome Chanel Buccola and Blake Shaw both from the class of 2007 to receive the Alumni Service Award. Coincidentally Chanel and Blake did a year of service together with City Year.

City Year is a national non- profit organization that engages college graduates into low income communities in Los Angeles as a way to combat the drop out crisis. One in four students in the Los Angeles Unified School District will not receive their high school diploma. City Year encourages young adults to commit to one year of service as a way to improve this statistic.

In their work these are some of the tasks our recipients did:

• Tutors, roles models and mentors for students in LA Unified
• Pumping up kids about succeeding in school, sometime that included dancing, chants and the occasional high 5
• Worked with students in the classroom; Blake worked in 9th grade math, Chanel taught all subjects in a 6th grade classroom; both with a partner educator
• After school was more tutoring for Blake and some enrichment, as well as hosting open mic nights for students, even doing school beautification
• For Chanel she was appointed After School Coordinator at her school in which she designed and implemented lesson plans regarding social justice issues. She also organized events for parents and the community with the sense of building unity and a safe place
• They averaged well over 50 hours a week volunteering, and Blake mentioned “he could not get enough of it.”

I asked the two of them what led you to this work, this is what they said:

Chanel: After graduating from USC in May 2011, I was unsure of my career path. I did know that I would never again have the opportunity to provide extensive service to my community so I decided to devote one year of my life to this cause. My mother was a teacher for seventeen years, so working with children has always been my comfort zone. I participated in many tutoring events at La Salle and was a member of LEAP. Every Founder’s Day, I would volunteer to tutor as my service project simply because I thoroughly enjoyed working with students of all ages. These experiences were fundamental attributes that led me to accept a position with City Year.

Blake said: The experiences and people in my life from elementary, through high school, and beyond college led me to a love of learning. When I learned about City Year from a friend in college, I decided I had to find more information. Once I realized that this would be a great way to share my love of learning and awaken that same feeling in students, I applied. Though full-time service with a living stipend meant a possible paycheck cut the reward in smiling faces and changed lives was well worth the monetary exchange.

What did you do at La Salle and how did it inspire you to do service?

Blake: At La Salle, I was fortunate enough to be involved as the president of the Phi Alpha Chi service organization, a student ambassador, and a volunteer on the Venaver trip to Tijuana, Mexico. I also led the cross country team and was a four-year member of the track and field team. Like all La Salle students, I had the chance to volunteer on founder’s week and partook in a senior service project where I had one of my first chances to tutor. My experience at La Salle certainly had a hand in my decision to volunteer with City Year. Many of my teachers here fostered that same love of learning that I felt so empowered to share with at-risk students. Of my service experiences at La Salle, I remember most poignantly the chance to work with lively youngsters in a small school in Tijuana on Venaver. Many of the students’ parents worked as scavengers at a nearby dump and they were completely surrounded by poverty but they saw past that. They loved life and they loved learning. On the tough days at City Year, they reminded me of the essential goodness and love of learning in every student and every person.

Chanel: When I speak to individuals about La Salle, I often mention that I wish high school was five years. This institution offers numerous opportunities to become involved in a plethora of activities. Aside from my roles as a tutor, I performed as a dancer, competed in athletics as a member of the softball and soccer teams, assisted with leadership as a representative of Student Life, and contributed as a lector at liturgies. I am so grateful that La Salle allowed me to engage in such a wide range of extracurricular events. I am positive that my perspective on community service was framed through my years at La Salle. The adage of City Year is “Give A Year, Change The World”. Each time I heard this, I recalled the aphorism of La Salle, “Enter to Learn, Leave To Serve”.

La Salle, Please join with me in recognizing both Chanel Buccola and Blake Shaw, Class of ’07 as recipients of our Alumni Service Award for 2012.

I want to thank both of you for returning to La Salle today and may your dedication to service to those in need be an example to all of us present in this room today. And please let us know how we can help.”

For more information, call (626) 351-8951 or visit www.lasallehs.org.

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