The Chaffee County Boys & Girls Clubs have named Kuper Banghart, 17, a junior at Salida High School, as their 2021 Youth of the Year.
A Club member for over eight years, “Kuper stood just a little taller than his peers over the past year,” according to BGCCC Executive Director Brian Beaulieu. “He’s overcome personal health challenges and still managed to lead our Club and our younger members by being an incredible role model.
“Kuper has served as captain of our Club’s Europa Rover Robotics team, lead STEM classes each of the past two summers, and helped our summer learning-project kids at Longfellow Elementary who were struggling with math. He’s an inspiration to all of us; and his smile, listening ear and sense of play make every day at the Club special for our youth.”
Youth of the Year is Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier youth leadership program. It honors extraordinary young people and their achievements in leadership, service, academic excellence, and dedication to living a healthy lifestyle.
Kuper will next contend for Colorado Youth of the Year and a $2,500 college scholarship at a virtual awards ceremony streamed online at 6:00 p.m. April 26. Local winners compete for the state title by completing essays on their Club and leadership experiences and giving a three-minute speech without notes.
Outstanding Local Boys & Girls Club Members
In addition to honoring Kuper, the local Boys & Girls Clubs recognized 26 other outstanding Club members through the Youth of the Year Program.
This annual recognition program, now in its 16th year in Chaffee County, has traditionally been an in-person event. But due to the pandemic, BGCCC celebrated these young leaders virtually on their Facebook page during the week of April 19 with pre-recorded videos.
“Every year, great kids walk through the doors of our two Boys & Girls Clubs, in Salida and Buena Vista,” said Beaulieu. “They discover how to make friends, become more motivated students, build life skills and serve others. In other words, they learn how to become good citizens, people who can be counted on to do the right thing. But some kids go even further. They become leaders inside and outside the Club, especially in their community.”
Other Club honorees include:
- High School Youth of the Year Olivia Martzke of Buena Vista, with runners-up Peyton Lingle of Buena Vista and Irene Alvarez of Salida.
- Middle School Youth of the Year was awarded to Aberlyn Leon of Buena Vista and Danielle Morgan of Salida. Kaleb McClure of Buena Vista was runner-up.
- Reyna Phelps was named Elementary School Kid of the Year.
The Chaffee County Clubs also recognized their Members of the Month from the past year.
Salida Club Members of the Month were Jayden Russell, Wyatt Harris, Ryus Mattix, Mayleigh Duran, Lilliana Gallegos, Kali Keast, Esme Eakins, Ella Melia, Ethan Schwarz, and Mackenzie Wilson.
Buena Vista Club Members of the Month included Nathan Wells, Katie Arrambide, Kristina Arrambide, Jacob Young, Jirehmia Trumble, Qwyntin Barnthouse, Catie Morgan, Cali Barnthouse, Paisley Miller and Abby Frazier.
To view the Chaffee County Youth of the Year videos or to donate to the local Boys & Girls Clubs, visit bgcchaffee.org.
Boys & Girls Clubs’ premier recognition program: Youth of the Year
Since 1947, Youth of the Year has been Boys & Girls Clubs’ premier recognition program, celebrating the extraordinary achievements of Club members. Each year, thousands of Club teens participate in local, state, and regional Youth of the Year events before one exceptional Club member is selected National Youth of the Year and awarded a $50,000 college scholarship.
To achieve this title, Club members must embody the values of leadership and service, academic excellence, and healthy lifestyles. Members compete for Youth of the Year by completing essays on their Club and leadership experiences and giving a short speech. Criteria for the speech include the Club’s impact on the member’s life, his or her values, and their personal vision for America’s youth.