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The City Journals

Jordan High Senior Receives Presidential Service Award

Apr 07, 2016 04:17PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Sandy - Jordan High senior Madeleine didn’t set out to earn the President’s Volunteer Service Award, so it was a pleasant surprise when she learned she would be receiving it. 

The President’s Volunteer Service Award recognizes United States citizens and lawfully admitted, permanent residents of the United States who have achieved the required number of hours of service during a 12-month time period. 

Madeleine will earn the gold award for logging in more than 100 hours of volunteer community service. She will receive a personalized certificate and a congratulatory letter from the president of the United States. 

For the past two years, Madeleine has been volunteering with the Sandy City Youth Court and this past year, with the Youth City Council.

“I learned about the youth court from my friend’s older brother and applied,” she said. “I really like the opportunity to help someone, but at the time I wasn’t interested in a career in the field. Now, I’m thinking about a career in forensics.”

Every Wednesday evening, Madeleine meets with 24 other high school students who live in or attend a high school in Sandy. These teens create the Sandy City Youth Court.

The Sandy Youth Court offers an alternative approach to juvenile justice in which youth are referred for minor offenses. 

After hearing the case, they are sentenced by a jury of their peers with the idea behind it being that the youth court provides a positive peer and mentoring influence, holds young offenders accountable for their actions, gives them a chance to strengthen their ties to school and community through community service, usually helping at the Boys and Girls Club, and finally has them examine their own life, by writing an essay or creating a PowerPoint about their goals, Madeleine said.

The volunteer youth court receives 20 hours of training where they learn how to question people, read dispositions and learn how to be professional, she said.

Many of the 50 annual cases they hear include shoplifting or possession of illegal substances such as e-cigarettes. She has been on the court when they listened to an assault case.

“That was super sad when we heard from the victim,” she said. “Most of the offenders are teens; some I’ve seen in the community or at school. The youngest was 10 years old.”

In addition to the Wednesday evenings, Madeleine also follows up with offenders as their mentor. Then, the offender appears back in court about six weeks after the first hearing.

“I hope that I’m helping them and getting them pointed back in the right direction,” she said.

She also volunteers with the Sandy City Youth City Council. 

Sandy Youth City Council is a group of high school students throughout Sandy that participates in political, social and humanitarian activities. Their goal is to serve the community as well as learn about government.

Madeleine and other students meet a couple hours per month performing service projects, such as helping with the Utah Food Bank and helping at Salt Lake’s Rescue Mission as well as learning about local government. She also has sat in on city council meetings, school board meetings and legislative sessions at the state capitol. The group also has toured city offices and services.

“I’ve learned so much about many parts of city government and how it works together and what makes it work,” she said. “There’s so many little bits that make up the whole that I wasn’t aware of.” 

Finally, Madeleine has served as the service chair with her school’s chapter of Future Business Leaders of America. She, with the support of the chapter, has created care packages for the military.

“I’ve gotten involved in helping people, and it has given me a richer perspective,” she said.