Bullied Boy, Legally Blind Girl Among SFYS's 'Outstanding' Recipients
Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services announces its Outstanding Teen Awards, and plans a gala to celebrate in February.
Submitted by Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services
Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services, Shrewsbury’s only private, nonprofit community counseling and social services agency, is pleased to announce the 2013 winners of our Outstanding Youth of Shrewsbury Awards. These awards are given to four outstanding Shrewsbury youths for their service to the community, leadership and accomplishments (often while dealing with challenges of their own), at SYFS’s 9th Annual Gala and Awards Dinner.
From a very talented, diverse, and deep pool of applicants, the 2013 winners of SYFS’ Outstanding Youth of Shrewsbury Awards are as follows:
Nick Silverio, Grade 12, Shrewsbury High School
Kristen Grip, Grade 11, Shrewsbury high School
Aaron Hayden, Grade 12, St. John’s High School
Jennifer Tylock, Grade 12, Shrewsbury High School
Want to know more about the winners?
Nick Silverio is a talented and hardworking student. He is a talented dancer, singer, and choreographer. He is a student leader, a camp counselor, and an active community volunteer, but what sets Nick apart is his indomitable spirit.
According to his mother, Jennifer, “…because Nicholas always marched to a different drummer, he has had to deal with some bullying in the community. From an early age he was labeled and sometimes harassed by other children who thought it would be fun to bring him down. But Nicholas never let that happen. Instead it made him a stronger person and gave him an understanding of how it feels to be the underdog. As a result, Nick has always supported the other underdogs in our community. For this, I will be forever proud of him.”
Nick has helped both middle schools in town with their theatrical and musical productions. He volunteers in various events in town that are too numerous to list, but one of his efforts as president of the National Honor Society deserves special mention. Last year, Nick completed training at the Hospice at Notre Dame in Worcester, where he helps both geriatric and pediatric patients who
are very ill or near the end of life. In addition, he coordinated a program for NHS students to volunteer in many capacities for the hospice. He has done the coordination between the school, the hospice director and staff, and the students, to make the program a great success.
Nick’s mom says the family has struggled due to a number of challenges in recent years, but despite all of it, Nick’s spirit is unbroken and his strength is inspiring. Nick’s role model is his mother, Jennifer. Nick aspires to study business and dance in college and then graduate school.
Kristen Grip is described as a “mentor, leader, and friend to all of her classmates” by Pamela Johnson, the nurse at SHS. Kristen has inspired those
around her as she has faced obstacles--with courage, grace, and determination--that would deter many people. A young woman who loves to play basketball and volleyball with her twin sister, Elizabeth, the road Kristen has traveled to return to active participation has been long and challenging.
Diagnosed in the eighth grade with a seizure disorder, Kristen has endured long stretches of time where she has been unable to play the sports she loves and has had to work longer and harder to maintain her academics as she has struggled with her condition and the side effects of treatment. Her teachers say she has shown remarkable commitment and dedication to stay on top of her studies, and while she was sidelined athletically last year, she was always present to enthusiastically support her teammates.
Fortunately, in the spring of 2012, doctors were able to identify the cause of Kristen’s seizures. After surgery and rehabilitation, Kristen has returned to school and sports. Today, she is seizure-free.
Kristen has volunteered at St. Anne’s Thrift Store, the Mustard Seed, and participates annually in the Relay for Life. She and Elizabeth are organizing a basketball fundraising event to benefit epilepsy research.
Kristen’s role model is her grandmother, who always said: “…with pride and desire and the help of God, anything is possible.” She lives by those words as she continues to strive toward her goal—attending college and finding a way to help children who face medical challenges.
Aaron Hayden is described by his principal, Dr. Jacob Conca, as “extremely compassionate and trustworthy,” a student who shows great care and
concern for others. Dr. Conca says Aaron is the first to volunteer and the last to leave when work needs doing. He is the student who can be counted on to show up and make sure things are in great shape before an event so that others will enjoy, and when the last of the guests leave, Aaron stays behind to fold up the chairs and turn out the lights. He is an unsung star, not looking for praise or
credit; a guy who rolls up his sleeves and with a smile on his face, does what needs doing.
Aaron is an avid sports enthusiast who has managed the basketball team for four years. He is devoted to the team, making it to all games, home and away. He videotapes the basketball games and many of the lacrosse games so that tapes can be studied and players can learn. This year Aaron led a retreat for sophomores, and by sharing some of his own challenges, he helped the younger
students learn to cope and deal with the obstacles in their lives. He is empathetic, selfless and caring.
Aaron volunteer at St. Peter’s Parish in Worcester and is a student leader of the Worcester County Young Writer’s Conference. He has worked at the St. John’s Summer Camp for several years and through his work with the young children there, Aaron has shown his gentle nature and sense of humor. Aaron played on the football team at St. John’s and aspires to major in business in college.
It is with enthusiasm, humility and humanity that we honor Aaron with this award.
“Jen Tylock is an amazing young woman,” said Jessica Rice, her guidance counselor at SHS. “Not only has she made her mark academically, she also stands out as an athlete, leader and humanitarian.” Jen has faced many challenges since being diagnosed with Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, a rare genetic disorder that causes loss of vision, when she was in the eighth grade. Jen is legally blind, but this has not hindered her in any way. Academically, Jen takes a rigorous course load. Her GPA of 4.94 attests to her
Jen is an inspiration to her teammates. She is a runner and pole vaulter who was elected Captain of the Girls Track Team and participated in the Summer Leadership Program. She qualified for and competed in the New England Championships in pole vault.
In addition to academics and athletics, Jen also volunteers in the Children’s Room at the Shrewsbury Public Library and works with teams in the Destination Imagination program. She was selected last year from a nationwide pool of students to travel to Cambodia to do volunteer work with the U.S. State Department.
To add a little fun to life, Jen has also attended circus camp. She can play the French horn, juggle, ride on a unicycle and walk a tightrope! Like her role model, Erick Weihenmayer, one of the most accomplished adventurers in the world who has re-defined what it means to be blind; Jennifer Tylock will accomplish everything she sets her mind to. In the words of her guidance counselor, “Jen is a quiet champion, is fearless, and has a huge heart.” She wants to study engineering in college and join the Peace Corps after college.
These Outstanding Youth of Shrewsbury Awards are sponsored generously by Central One Federal Credit Union.
The SYFS 9th Annual Gala Celebration is on Saturday, Feb. 9, at Saint John’s High School. The evening is a celebration of community spirit and a fundraiser to support critical SYFS programs for local children and families. Guests will
enjoy a cocktail reception with live music and a silent auction, a gourmet dinner by Peppers Catering, awards presentations, and a live grand drawing – all beginning at 6 p.m. Chair for the event is Shrewsbury resident Michael Gregory.
Anyone interested in sponsorship or volunteer opportunities for the Gala can contact SYFS at 508-845-6932 or visit www.syfs-ma.org. Tickets are
$85 (tax deductible) and can be purchased on-line, over the phone with a credit card, or in person at SYFS, 240 Maple Avenue, Shrewsbury with cash, check, or credit card. Space is limited.
In addition, tickets for the Grand Drawing are available at the SYFS office. The Grand Prize is a gorgeous, three diamond pendant necklace valued at over $3,500, most generously donated by Sachs Jewelers. Tickets are $20 each.