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High School in Lexington County Named Jefferson Award Winner for South Carolina

Swansea, SC – A student service and leadership team from Swansea High School has been named the South Carolina recipient of the Jefferson Award for Most Outstanding Students In Action Team and will represent the state at this year’s Jefferson Awards Ceremony in Washington, DC.

Swansea High School’s Students In Action (SIA) team received the news during a surprise announcement at the school on April 26. The only high school in Lexington School District 4, Swansea High has had an SIA team for three years through a partnership between the Jefferson Awards Foundation and Job’s for America’s Graduates (JAG), a program of the SC Department of Employment and Workforce. The Swansea High team was named a semi-finalist for this award at the annual JAG Career Development Conference, held at Brookland Baptist Conference Center in West Columbia on April 20.

“This is a very impressive group of students,” said Jefferson Awards State Director Heather Love. “Not only did they complete really amazing service projects, but they engaged their entire school in making a difference, persevered when they faced obstacles, and learned a lot from their experience. Their service to their school, to the Swansea and Gaston communities, and ultimately to the state of South Carolina is what really stood out as the team that should be honored with this year’s Jefferson Award.”

The Jefferson Awards for Public Service was founded in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Senator Robert Taft, Jr., and Samuel S. Beard as the country’s highest honor for public service and volunteerism. Officials say the mission of the Jefferson Awards is to honor Americans who have performed outstanding public service and to inspire others to follow their examples.

Twenty-four South Carolina high school Students In Action teams competed to win the state’s top honor this year, and Swansea High was one of five regional winners from around the state, Love said. Members of the Swansea High SIA team include; Nate Winch, Hunter Fairbanks, Seth Hoffman, Ron Bell, Brianna Coots, Skylar Cosentino, Rachel Burns, Ragan Williams, Jerry Mendez, Carlos Arriaga, and Shawn Adcock. The Jefferson Awards’ National Ceremony and Gala will be held in Washington, DC on June 22.

“We are so proud of how hard these students have worked for our school, our community and themselves. They, and the JAG program, are a model for selflessness, perseverance, and grit,” said Craig Baker, Principal of Swansea High School. “We wish them the best of luck as they head to the national competition in DC this summer. Go Tigers!”

A program active in more than 400 schools nationwide, Students In Action is a service-learning and leadership development program that “trains student leaders to think big, become the driving force for effective service, and create meaningful impact.” At Swansea High, where more than 90 percent of the students live at or below the poverty line, students have turned their hardships into an opportunity to give back. They run a community-wide food pantry out of the school, receiving over $20,000 in donations this year and serving more than 200 families. They also provided snack packs that they sent home with elementary and middle school students in their district, and raised $2,000 to provide Christmas gifts to three families in need. This group of students also raised awareness for breast cancer, supported the Special Olympics, participated in a don’t-text-and-drive campaign, and much more.

SIA team members like Seth Hoffman, president of the Swansea High SIA team, say that having a team at their school has given students a way to make a difference. “SIA has changed the way groups do things completely at Swansea High School. No longer is it ‘each group for themselves’—we all help each other run successful community service campaigns as a result of our participation and training through Students In Action.” said Hoffman.

Tammy Jones, sponsor of the school’s SIA team and a staff member at Swansea High, added, “These students are passionate about fighting hunger and serving their community more and more each year. I am so proud of their leadership and hard work.”

About the Jefferson Awards Foundation

The Jefferson Awards Foundation (JAF) is the country’s longest standing and most prestigious organization dedicated to activating and celebrating public service. Founded in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, former Senator Robert Taft, Jr., and Samuel S. Beard, JAF trains and empowers individuals to serve and lead in their communities, amplifying their impact through the organization’s vast network of media, business, and youth-service partners. To learn more about the Jefferson Awards Foundation, visit JeffersonAwards.org or follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Additional information on Students In Action can be found at http://studentsinaction.jeffersonawards.org

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