Boys & Girls Club names finalists for 2020 Youth of the Year competition

photo by: Photo by Jason Dailey

Lawrence high school students Akosua Danso, from left, Clay LaPierre and Allie Martinez are the three finalists for the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence's Youth of the Year competition.

Three Lawrence high school students will soon take the stage to make their case for being a top teen in the community.

The Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence recently named Akosua Danso, Clay LaPierre and Allie Martinez as the finalists for the 2020 Youth of the Year competition, according to a news release from the organization. LaPierre and Martinez were both finalists for the 2019 competition.

The annual competition aims to honor a Lawrence teenager who embodies the values of the Boys & Girls Club: leadership service, academic excellence and healthy lifestyles.

Danso, a sophomore at Lawrence High School, is the daughter of Naomi and Alfred Danso. She has been attending the Boys & Girls Club since second grade and currently works for Hang 12, a student-run art curation group. After high school, she wants to attend an Ivy League college to study law or psychology, along with art.

LaPierre, a senior at LHS, is the son of Linda and Travis LaPierre. He has attended the club since sixth grade and recently began working as a substitute group leader for the organization. He plans to attend Peaslee Tech and the University of Kansas to help him reach his goal to become a mechanic and business owner.

Martinez, a senior at Free State High School, is the daughter of Lisa Rooney. She began attending the club sometime during elementary school and is the president of the Dane Floyd Keystone Club, a high school community service club. She hopes to study architecture at The Cooper Union, Barnard College, School of the Art Institute of Chicago or Kansas State University.

A panel of judges will interview each candidate and score their written essays and answers to short questions. Later, during the event, each candidate will deliver an individual speech to the audience. After the speeches, the judges will tally the scores to determine the winner. Their decision will be announced at the conclusion of the ceremony.

The winner of the Lawrence competition will then go on to represent the community in the state competition. State winners advance to regional competitions, and regional winners advance to the National Youth of the Year event.

Lawrence students have performed well in the state competition. The local organization has produced the Kansas Youth of the Year in five of the last eight years, most recently Ruth Gathunguri in 2018 and 2019.

This year’s competition is 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 30, at Liberty Hall, 644 Massachusetts St. The event is free and open to the public.

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