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Four Students Recognized for Top 20 Under 20 of Cortland Couty

Cortland Area Communities that Care (CACTC) celebrated the 2018 Cortland County 20 Under 20 Awards on May 10th at the Cortland Repertory Theater. The Cortland Area Communities that Care Coalition recognizes noteworthy students annually through the 20 under 20 awards. Four Cortland students were recognized this year.

CACTC’s goal is to identify and recognize students out in the Cortland Community that exhibit leadership, service, resilience, and significant contributions in the following areas: community involvement, school involvement, characters and personal accomplishments.  

A community panel reviewed all nominations and selected the awardees.  The following Cortland Junior and Senior High School students were recognized: Annie Ryan Austin, Kelsey Gibbons, Marcus Snyder, and Kathleen Starr.

Annie Ryan Austin is an 8th grader and known in her school and community as being an advocate for children who are struggling. She was nominated by a family friend, Nadine Zesky. At the age of 13, she created the program called, “You Are Enough, Bullying and Suicide Prevention.” She is often seen at community events working at a booth to just help out and is well known for volunteering at local summer art camps. Annie is always thinking of others. Annie has been in the top 20 of her class and has won the President's Outstanding Academic Excellence award. She has been on honor roll for all semesters and is an athlete. Annie recently won the John Ryan Olympic Spirit Award for Outstanding Achievement through diligence and perseverance.

Kelsey Gibbons is well known by the faculty of Cortland High School. She was nominated by her teacher, Lisa Caselle. Kelsey is able to participate in athletics, clubs and volunteer service year round, while maintaining high honor roll grades. She has been a member of the girls lacrosse and field hockey teams since 2012. Kelsey is a member of the “Reality Check” program which is part of the Bureau of Tobacco Control for NYS. Her work to educate the community and lawmakers in Albany about tobacco marketing and addiction led her to be recognized at the 2017 Statewide and Central Region Youth Advocate of the Year awards. Kelsey has participated in volunteer work and fundraisers for Randall Elementary School, Relay for Life, Santa’s Elves, Red Cross Blood Drive, and Loaves and Fishes. She is a responsible, compassionate, and driven individual.

Marcus Snyder is an active, outgoing individual. He was nominated by his teacher, Sandy Bernard. Marcus volunteers at Cortland Regional Medical Center, St. Mary’s Drug Quiz team and his church. Marcus is a talented student with a respect for others to make a positive difference in the world around him. He is always willing to offer a helping hand and has often lent his assistance to both faculty and peers without being asked. Marcus has a passion for learning and has excelled in advanced math class. His drive, curiosity and engagement help make the classroom a fun, positive learning environment. He is also a member of the soccer, track, and science olympiad team.

Kathleen Starr is a member of Student Council, Senior Citizens Day Committee, National Honor Society, Radio Guild, basketball, soccer, and lacrosse teams. She was nominated by principal John Zarcone of the Senior High School. Many of the activities Kathleen helps put together are aimed at the youth of the community and creating fun and safe activities for the kids. Kathleen is a true leader, she is assertive and well spoken far beyond her years. She has shared ideas about ways to improve the overall experience for students at her school with administrators. It is clear that she cares about her school and all of the people in it. 

Kathleen said, "It was an honor to be recognized at the 20 under 20 ceremony. It is very thoughtful of the organization to take the time to recognize young people in the community for their involvement." 

We are extremely proud of the the above students for being recognized for their outstanding work in the Cortland Community.


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