Volunteer of the Year


Alexandra Amherst, Staff Writer

Every year the VHS Outstanding Youth Volunteer award is given to a special student who has dedicated an astounding number of hours to volunteering in our community. To receive the award a student must be recognized by Venice High administration where they look at the students work ethic and dedication. This year’s award recipient, senior, Ashley Ceglia, racked in a whopping 248 volunteer hours since the beginning of last summer. That’s an average 8 hours a week! When asked about the benefits of receiving the award, Ceglia replied, “Knowing that those few hours helped the lives of many and made their lives easier.” She went on to say, “Having done so many hours of volunteer work looks really good on volunteer based scholarships like Bright Futures.”

Ceglia volunteered as a teacher’s aide at Student Leadership Academy, a manager for both the Varsity Football Equipment and Lady Indians Varsity Basketball, a helper at Relay for Life, and many other local locations. When asked, Ceglia admitted that out of all the places she volunteered, the Junior Law Academy was at the top of the list. She passionately expressed that she loved contributing to an action that lead to a positive outcome. “I love that I got to work with Venice, North Port, and Sarasota Police departments along with the Sheriff’s department to reward students that thrived in school.” To many students 248 hours sounds a lot like impossible but Ceglia made it look like a piece of cake. “It’s inspiring to see the people I helped feel better because they have less of a load to tackle. I love what I do, the people I volunteer for and the people I volunteer with.”

On April 6th, Ceglia attended a dinner and award ceremony at the Venice Community Center Ballroom to honor those whom have set themselves apart from the rest by giving their time to the community. Ceglia was pleasantly surprised to discover she had been recognized as one of those outstanding students, “To be honest, I’d never heard of the award until Dr. Tanaka told me about it.” As expressed by Dr. Tanaka, “Ashley is the perfect example of a high school student, she is very kind and hardworking.” Dr. Tanaka explained that the Venice staff and Ceglia’s teachers, including guidance counselor, Mrs. Wolfe, came to the agreement that she most definitely deserved recognition. School Resource Officer, Sean Hammet, gave the tear-jerking speech of the night expressing his gratitude towards Ceglia, “Ashley exemplifies what every administrator, teacher and parent wants from a student. She is implicitly kind to everyone she meets.” Hammet goes on to say, “She never says ‘no’ to any challenge placed in front of her. She endlessly volunteers her time and talents without regard to self-implications. You will never attend a VHS event and not see Ashley, but you will have to look carefully because this very shy young lady will likely be in the shadows building up others to be their best.”

For Ceglia, it took determination and dedication to get where she is now. Between school, volunteering, and extracurricular activities there’s bound to be some bumps in the road, but with unwavering focus, school and Ceglia didn’t mess around. “I always put school work first, and during free time at school I would complete my homework. This allowed me to use my free time after school to volunteer.” Ceglia hopes to continue her path of improving and helping the community as well as seeing others follow in her footsteps. “My advice to anyone wanting to volunteer is to go to a place you feel comfortable with and volunteer doing something that you love to do.”

Ashley Ceglia first received recognition as Youth Volunteer of the Year at a staff meeting in March.