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Prairie Hills student wins 2022 CAGT Youth Impact Award

Prairie Hills student wins 2022 CAGT Youth Impact Award

This year, the Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented chose four children from the state of Colorado to be named CAGT Youth Impact Award students. One student for the Junior Division (ages 7-9), one student for the Senior Division (ages 10-12), and two students for the Masters Division (ages 13-18). Our very own Presley from Prairie Hills Elementary won the award in the Junior Division and received a CAGT Certificate of Excellence and a cash reward.

Presley was nominated for the 2022 CAGT Youth Impact Award by her GT Coordinator Christine Cervera. Here is the recommendation that Cervera submitted:

"It has been a joy to see her bubbly enthusiasm, as well as her hard work and dedication over the years. This year she actively participated in my after-school Makers and Builders Club and Widget Workshop where we studied aspects of running a business, from product development and marketing, to turning a profit. Presley was always hard-working and engaged in all of our projects.

Presley is a remarkable 9 year old who has had a long history of caring deeply about rescue and foster dogs. Her family has fostered shelter dogs in the past, and Presley has always been deeply involved in the dogs’ care. She always loved all dogs, despite any quirks or special needs. The picture shows Presley with her neighbor’s dog, One-Eyed Magoo. This year, Presley had a powerful idea to involve Prairie Hills and our community in a service learning project to benefit Moms and Mutts Colorado Rescue, a non-profit dog rescue dedicated to saving pregnant and nursing dogs and their litters from high kill shelters by finding homes that will foster these dogs until an adoption can be made.

Presley then began an organized approach to bringing her idea to fruition. First, she talked about her ideas with her classroom teacher, Mrs. Jackson, and researched what sort of items and donations Moms and Mutts was able to use and accept. Then Presley made an appointment with our principal Ms. Auday to pitch her proposal. After getting permission, she organized a team of girls from her class who were willing to help with her project.  They thought about the best marketing plan to get the rest of the school on board with donations and decided to make a contest to see which grade level or department could collect the most items. She and her team worked on their presentations, orally presenting information to every class in the school. Each class/area was given a donation box to collect materials and a timeline.  She led her student team in making fliers for the halls, students, and school staff so everyone would know what materials to donate.

Excitement mounted schoolwide as heaps of donations were collected. News of her mission spilled over into the community, leading substitute teachers and students’ grandparents to also get involved. Younger siblings, not yet old enough for school, toted donations along with their parents. The collection boxes had to be repeatedly emptied and tallied. Presley and her team spent many hours after school organizing and sorting the donations. Many animal lovers on staff chipped in to see how the project was going and see what they could do to help.

Friendly competition spurred even more people to donate. Students felt empowered that they were doing something to help, now that Presley had educated them about the plight of shelter pregnant dogs and their puppies. Students wanted to learn more about raising puppies and rescue pets. As the project wrapped up, there was a community feeling that we should do this every year so that Prairie Hills Elementary did our part to help with rescue and foster dogs in our community.

When all was said and done, our school of about 420 students ended up collecting nearly 400 needed items for the dog rescue in just a few weeks!  The impact of this supply drive will help the Moms and Mutts organization to care for more foster dogs, at a time when shelters are overflowing. There are more dogs now in shelters than at any time, due to a combination of factors, including a surplus of dogs that were adopted during the pandemic when many were working at home that owners no longer felt able to care for when remote working ended.

For Presley, this experience has led her to dream even bigger. As her family will soon be adopting a new puppy, she worked with her family to develop a plan for their new puppy to be trained as a licensed therapy dog. She is already eagerly looking forward to more community outreach in the future as she brings her therapy dog to comfort hospital patients and nursing home residents. Presley’s leadership skills, compassion, and vision set her apart from typical 9 year olds. Altruism runs deep through her young soul as she looks ahead to ways she can help both animals and people. Presley is very deserving of the CAGT Youth Impact Award."

Here is what CAGT had to say about Presley:

"Presley is an active, compassionate 9 year old girl who lives in Thornton, Colorado with her family. She attends Prairie Hills Elementary in the Adams 12 school district. Presley loves dogs and has committed years of her young life helping with rescue dogs in whatever ways she can. Presley led a schoolwide donation drive to get supplies for pregnant foster dogs and their puppies. She is a true hero who takes action and inspires other to make a difference."

This story exemplifies our ELEVATE Focus Area: 21st Century Learners. Sharing stories of students who collaborate, think critically, problem-solve and are digitally literate to thrive in today’s ever-changing world.