Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County celebrated graduating seniors from local high schools at the agency’s annual Senior Banquet & Graduation Celebration on Thursday, May 10, thanks to a grant from the Taco Bell Foundation that empowers youth to pursue a college degree or career after high school graduation.
“We founded the Taco Bell Foundation to invest in youth and to ignite their futures, starting with graduation. These youth are our customers, friends, families, employees and our future leaders,” said Frank Tucker Chief People Officer at Taco Bell and President for the Taco Bell Foundation. “Our partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America provides an opportunity to deliver on our commitment to ensure youth are empowered to graduate from high school and go onto pursue their dreams. We’re proud of the effort put forth by every youth being honored at this wonderful event.”
The Class of 2018 included 67 teens from 10 different high schools who have participated in a variety of Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County’s leadership, service, workforce development and entrepreneurial programs such as SRQVolunteen, STAR Leadership Training, Perlman Price Young Entrepreneurs and Keystone. Graduates include Ana Bravo and Kayla McGann from Booker High School; AJ Benate, Caitlin Blanchard, Ryan Blechta, Danielle Bourque, Sara Dramis, Cesarae Jensen, Harrison Jones, William Lloyd, Bo Lumpkin, Madison Reyes, Lucas Richter, Savell Robinson and Hannah Sanborn from Cardinal Mooney High School; Celeste Morales and Kyle Parsotan from North Port High School; Ali Ahmed, Alex Anacki, Katie Bonner, Jabin Chambers, Alice Fatula, Mary Good, Dylan Hawley, Ryan Jordan, Emma Knego, Soumya Kona, Jonathan Michalik, Mikaela Michalik, Arya Nalluri, Yho Phillip Namgoong, Caroline Nosal, Will Riesenberger, Delaney Smith, Minnah Stein, Isabella Stepanek and Reed Windom from Pine View School; Cullen Bolkey, Maya Brook, Bobby Brunner, Kayla Escobar, Michelle Gondek, Thomas Harper, Benjamin Heath, Qyasia Jackson, John LaCivita, Samantha Meier, Seth Morton and Alyssa Nasi from Riverview High School; Conor Andrich, Jalynn Booker, Emma Johnson, Max Kunkel, Ian McLean, Will Morton, Katelin Nguyen, Kaylee Prosser, Michael Rozmus and Zack Terres from Sarasota High School; Brandon Stewart and Timothy Taylor from Sarasota Military Academy; Katie Holstein from STC; Max Hamel from Suncoast Polytechnical High School; and Nick Degenaro, Elijah Rodriguez, Rickey Tedesco and Chesne Van As from Venice High.
“The youth we’re celebrating tonight are outstanding examples of what comes from our dynamic programming with unique opportunities and caring staff,” said Suriya Khong, Director of Teen Outreach at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County. “We appreciate the Taco Bell Foundation for helping us celebrate our new grads and committing to our future ones.”
Special recognition and awards were distributed to exemplary seniors who have demonstrated academic excellence and a commitment to leadership and service while planning for success after high school graduation. Seth Morton and Minnah Stein received the Shannon Staub Leadership Award provided by the Shannon Staub Excellence in Leadership Scholarship Fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County; Isabella Stepanek was awarded the Evie Anderson Memorial Civic Engagement Scholarship presented by the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA); Mekayla Ford, Kayla McGann and Brandon Stewart were recognized for receiving the Robert and Patricia Gussin Endowed Scholarship at Duquesne University; and Rickey Tedesco was recognized for being named the 2018 Florida Youth of the Year.
Congratulations to our graduating seniors! We are so proud of you and wish you the best of luck in your next endeavors! Click here to learn more about our Teen Programs.
About Taco Bell Corp.
Taco Bell Corp., a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE: YUM), is the nation’s leading Mexican-inspired quick service restaurant (QSR) brand. From breakfast to late night, Taco Bell serves made-to-order and customizable tacos and burritos, among other craveable choices, and is the first QSR restaurant to offer American Vegetarian Association (AVA)-certified menu items. Taco Bell and its more than 350 franchise organizations proudly serve over 42 million customers each week through nearly 7,000 restaurants across the nation, as well as through its mobile, desktop and delivery ordering services. Overseas, Taco Bell has over 250 restaurants, with plans to add 2,000 more restaurants internationally within the next decade. The brand encourages its fans to “Live Mas” and connects with them through sports, gaming and new music via its Feed The Beat® music program. Taco Bell also provides education opportunities and serves the community through its nonprofit organization, the Taco Bell® Foundation™, and connects fans with their passions through programs such as the Live Mas Scholarship program. In 2016, Taco Bell was named as one of Fast Company’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in the World.
About Taco Bell Foundation
Taco Bell Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) public charity that helps America’s young people follow their dreams and reach their full potential. Since 1992, the Foundation has helped more than 3 million youth across the country and has awarded more than $60 million in grants and scholarships, focused on education and career readiness. In 2018, more than $5 million dollars will be disbursed to 350 youth-serving organizations across the country.
In 2015, Taco Bell and the Taco Bell Foundation launched the Live Más Scholarship, a program aimed at empowering the nation’s next generation of dreamers, innovators and creators – those whose passions don’t fall into the conventional “academic” or “athletic” qualifying categories of traditional scholarship programs. In 2018, the Foundation will award more than 150 young people with $1.5 million in Live Más Scholarships. For more information visit LiveMásScholarship.com.