BERLIN — The Sylvia Evans Young Leadership Awards for 2017 are being presented to Tiffiney Poirier of Berlin High and Lauren Gralenski of Gorham Middle High School.
“These awards are presented to a young woman who displays both outstanding leadership and a strong dedication to community service, who captures the spirit of volunteering and motivates others,” said Ken Gordon, CEO of Coos County Family Health Services. This is the eighth year for the Young Leadership Awards, which are an offshoot of the Sylvia Evans Citizenship Award. The awards are presented at the Sylvia Evans Award Ceremony on April 7 at 7 p.m. at White Mountains Community College.
Tiffiney Poirier, Berlin High School
Tiffiney Poirier has excelled in high school in academics, sports and service work, and is a three-season athlete who has demonstrated strong leadership abilities. She has handled a rigorous course load, gaining a weighted grade point average of 95.66 on a 100 scale. As a sophomore, Poirier was inducted into the National Honor Society, earning a title of NH Scholar with a pathway in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
“I have always known I wanted to be a teacher,” Poirier said.
She has demonstrated her commitment with two years of career technical education in the field of early childhood education. She would like to attend college to continue in the field, and has currently been gaining hands-on experience working with the high school's on-site pre-school, a separate organization from the high school itself.
"Tiffiney is both caring and patient, and she is a responsible and mature young woman," said BHS School Guidance Counselor Jessica Russ. "Tiffiney goes above and beyond in her volunteer work between Key Club and National Honor Society," she said.
Throughout her high school years, Poirier has kept up with a number of extra-curricular activities. She has been a three-season athlete in varsity soccer, JV/varsity basketball and track and field. She held the position of team captain in both soccer and basketball freshman and sophomore year. She is also a part of the unified basketball team this year, which is a team made up of handicapped athletes and non-handicapped partners.
In her junior year, Poirier became the president of FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) and Key Club editor. This year, she was nominated as president of Key Club, which is sponsored by a local Kiwanis group and requires 40 hours of volunteering from April to the following March.
The Key Club students made blankets for Boston Children’s Hospital and designed cards to distribute to people at local nursing homes. A major activity is the membership drive and fundraiser, which is held for a week in autumn. This year, the funds they raised for Key Club International went to provide tetanus shots for children overseas.
Some of Poirier’s other activities include the Youth Leadership Through Adventure program, which provides not only plentiful outdoor activities but also training in suicide prevention, so teens can develop the skills to intervene when friends or peers are in trouble.
She has attended the Merrowvista program for the past two years, which provides a weekend-long camp in southern New Hampshire that includes games promoting leadership skills. An example is a game where students wear a playing card that can only be seen by others, which is assigned a value. The game is designed to help students deal with the way others perceive them.
Poirier plans to attend White Mountains Community College in the fall, so she will stay local in the Berlin community. “I am confident that she will continue to excel not only in her academics, but also in her commitment to her community,” said Russ.
Lauren Gralenski, Gorham Middle /High School
Lauren Gralenski is a well-rounded contributor with enough options to make anyone’s head spin. An outstanding scholar, she has been president of the Gorham chapter of National Honor Society for the past two years and was accepted at all 10 of the colleges she applied for (she has narrowed it down to four).
The NHS is a community-service-led group that plans an event every month. Their varied activities have included cooking and serving a Veterans’ Day Supper one month and performing as elves at the Polar Express in North Conway. She has also been an active member of Future Business Leaders of America, which not only raises scholarship money but also manages it.
"Lauren is very passionate about all her causes and is never afraid to go 'the path less traveled,'" said Christine Lemoine, student counselor at Gorham High School.
Gralenski has also been captain of the soccer, basketball and softball teams for several years, and has been voted treasurer of the Student Council for four years and vice president this year. She has worked on homecoming floats, proms and winter carnival events annually, designing and helping construct decorations and handling music for the events.
Her events "get our students the most animated and excited to participate," said Lemoine. "It is a credit to her how many times she has been elected to the highest leadership positions that we have. She is not an impulsive leader — every decision she makes is very well calculated."
After her junior year, Gralenski attended the St. Paul’s School Advanced Studies program in Concord, a rigorous 5 ½-week program called "Data Driven," where she studied applied mathematics and statistics. Over the past four years, Gralenski has taken on a difficult course load in all types of disciplines. In her senior year, she has enrolled in at least three Running Start courses, an advanced placement biology course, has had two school-to-career internships, and is completing a senior project. As a student intern, she put in 65 hours with Androscoggin Valley Hospital Administration working with Brian O'Hearn, director of nursing, and James Patry in patient experience and marketing. She also spent a day shadowing a Northway Bank employee to learn marketing.
Although she is undecided, Gralenski is considering a career in project management or business.
"I am certain she will quickly climb the ladder wherever the path leads her because she is not a follower," Lemoine said. "She is not afraid to strategize and problem-solve, and she always comes up with the best solutions."