LHS sophomore Arabella Gipp still proud to represent Lawrence despite falling short in statewide Youth of the Year contest

photo by: Contributed

Lawrence High School sophomore Arabella Gipp and Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence CEO Monica Dittmer are pictured in the center of a group of elected officials — State Rep. Christina Haswood, Lawrence City Commissioner Amber Sellers, State Rep. Barbara Ballard and State Sen. Marci Francisco. Gipp competed for the 2023 Kansas Youth of the Year honor Monday night in Topeka, and Dittmer was named the 2023 Boys and Girls Club CEO of the Year.

While Lawrence High School sophomore Arabella Gipp didn’t come away with the 2023 Kansas Youth of the Year title, she can count herself among rare company as the most recent competitor to represent Lawrence in the event in back-to-back years.

Gipp was the winner of Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence’s 2023 Youth of the Year award, and she had a chance to compete for the statewide title — which she won in 2022 — Monday night in Topeka. Though she fell short this time around, Gipp became the first Lawrence honoree to compete in back-to-back statewide contests since 2019.

Regardless of the outcome, Gipp said she was proud to represent her community and local Boys and Girls Club in a press release following Monday’s event.

“The love and respect that I have for Boys and Girls Club is so deep that I just want to share that with everyone,” Gipp said in the release. “It has impacted my life so much for the better, and it’s impacted my friends’ lives so much for the better. We really are a family. It’s hard because I want to win and do all of these things to represent Lawrence, but I know whatever happens my club family is going to be there for me no matter what.”

But one representative of Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence did come away an award winner Monday night — CEO Monica Dittmer was named the 2023 Kansas Boys and Girls Club CEO of the Year.

That award is voted upon by the Kansas Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs’ CEOs and board members and announced at the annual Youth of the Year event.

“I’m surrounded by so many CEOs who put in a lot of hard work, and I’m completely humbled by this,” Dittmer said in the release. “I just do my best to do whatever it takes for our kids, but honestly, I’m very lucky to be here. I get to do what I love, and I’m thankful for that.”


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