The 23 Youth of the Year Award nominees on stage at the El Capitan Theater Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Russ Briley/The Signal
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Santa Clarita Valley Boys and Girls Club member Araceli Arreola was among 23 Boys and Girls Club members honored at the Los Angeles Alliance for Boys and Girls Clubs’ 2017 Youth of the Year Awards Wednesday at the El Capitan Theater.

“It’s honestly such an honor and it makes me feel like I’ve done something for my community,” Arreola said.  “It’s one of my biggest accomplishments.”

The annual awards ceremony recognizes Boys and Girls Club members from across the county for their focus on academic achievement, community service, character, fitness and sports.

Only 23 of the organization’s 140,000 club members are selected as Youth of the Year nominees and two are selected as the Los Angeles Alliance winners.

“These kids excel in character, leadership, being a role model for their peers, community service,” said Mary Hewitt, Los Angeles County Alliance for Boys and Girls Clubs’ executive director.  “That’s what pushes them over the edge.  Some of these kids have hundreds of hours of community service in one year.”

As Youth of the Year nominees, all 23 students won an all-expenses paid trip to China for an international, cultural and educational expedition, made possible by the Alliance’s partners and sponsors.

“We’ve noticed that this group in particular has become very close,” Hewitt said.  “The china trip is what they’re very excited about.”

Araceli Arreola at the Los Angeles Alliance for Boys and Girls Clubs’ 2017 Youth of the Year Awards Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Russ Briley/The Signal

Arreola, a Hart High School senior, said she is looking forward to traveling overseas for the first time with her new friends.

“I’m looking forward to trying new foods and learning about the culture and seeing what it’s about and to experience new things,” she said.

Arreola began going to the Boys and Girls club four years ago as a place to stay when she finished school.

“I enjoyed it more and wanted to come back,” she said.

Over the years, Arreola said the Santa Clarita Valley Boys and Girls Club taught her more about herself and how to be comfortable in her own skin.

“It’s made me more outspoken and not so shy,” Arreola said.  “They taught me a way to express myself.”

Overall, the students were happy to get to know one another, thank the organization’s sponsors and participate in the annual Youth of the Year Awards event.

“I think the kids loved it,” Hewitt said.  “They all are so amazing and their stories are so amazing and that’s what inspired people last night.”

ccox@signalscv.com
661-287-5575
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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Christina Cox
Christina Cox is a multimedia journalist covering education, community and breaking news in the Santa Clarita Valley. She joined The Signal as a staff writer in August 2016.
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