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2010-11 National PLA Winner

2010-11 National PLA Winners

NASSP and Herff Jones are proud to announce the national winners of this year's NASSP/Herff Jones Principal's Leadership Award (PLA) national scholarship program. These eight winners advanced from the state winner level to receive national awards in the four categories listed below. Herff Jones will present plaques to each of the top eight winners at their respective high schools.

2010-11 NASSP/Herff Jones PLA National Winner
($12,000 Scholarship Award)

Mary Claire McGlynn, Althoff Catholic High School, Belleville, IL; David Harris, Principal


National Finalist ($8,500 Scholarship Award)
Tess Michaels, Plano West Senior High School, Plano, TX; Randy Hayes, Principal

National Semi Finalist ($5,000 Scholarship Award)
Majdolene Khweis, Taos High School, Taos, NM; Rodney Litke, Principal

Regional Winners ($1,500 Scholarship Award Each)

  • Dustin Wood, Vallivue High School, Caldwell, ID; Richard Brulotte, Principal
  • Shelbi Draper, Whitefield Academy, Louisville, KY; Jacob Saltsman, Principal
  • Taylor Pelletier, Ft. Kent Community High School, Ft. Kent; ME, Timothy Doak, Principal
  • Olivia Duenow, Chaska High School, Chaska, MN; David Brecht, Principal
  • Lili Chasen, West Babylon Senior High School, West Babylon, NY; Ellice Vassals, Principal

National Winner ($12,000)
Mary Claire McGlynn

Althoff Catholic High School
Belleville, IL
David Harris, Principal

At 14, Mary Claire wrote a grant that began NETwork Against Malaria, national NFP. NETwork provides bed nets to Ugandan children, pregnant women, and families. Through NETwork Against Malaria, she educates recipients by distributing and teaching the importance and use of the bed net. As cofounder, Executive Director and Secretary, of NETwork and President of the Althoff Chapter, she spends 44 hours weekly volunteering coordinating volunteers, events and promotional materials including the Web site and a youth empowerment blog. Mary also makes and sells jewelry, and inspires students to take action. In three years, she has provided 4,400 bed nets and saved up to 13,200 lives. Mary Claire has completed an amazing 3,284 hours of community service in many community organizations. Her principal said “Through her tireless efforts, she has demonstrated a crusader spirit to help others.”

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National Finalist ($8,500)
Tess Michaels
Plano West Senior High School
Plano, TX
Randy Hayes, Principal

Driven by a desire to prolong healthy life of Americans, Tess undertook a three-year research project that combined lifespan studies at her home lab with bio-chemical testing at the university lab. She uncovered an epigenetic pathway to longevity and presented her findings at international conferences. Tess volunteered on the oncology floor of the local hospital, founded the Red Cross Club at her school and served the community as a Teen Attorney and a Congressional Youth Advisor.  Her principal, Randy Hayes said “Tess shows tremendous internal strength and is a very engaged student who is intellectually brilliant, genuine, compassionate and caring.”

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National Semi Finalist ($5,000)
Majdolene Khweis
Taos High School
Taos, NM
Rodney Litke, Principal

Majdolene believes that students can truly change the world by pursuing issues that impact their daily lives especially if they feel passionate about them. This is exactly what happened to her as she walked to the school bus stop one day. Walking on unpaved roads through mud and water erosion she decided to do something about these conditions and began her research into biodegradable, environmentally safe polymer, Polyethylene Oxide, to prevent water erosion. Through her findings, water erosion can be reduced up to 94%! Majdolene was instrumental in establishing a National Honor Society chapter for her high school and works as a Sous Chef at a local restaurant.

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Regional Winners ($1,500 Each)
Dustin Wood
Vallivue High School
Caldwell, ID
Richard Brulotte, Principal

Every year thousands of teens are hurt and abused in teen-age relationships and Dustin knew several teens just like that. He felt he had to do something to help and educate them on the importance of healthy relationships. He wanted to stop the violence and to save lives. Awarded in only eleven cities a year, Boise was chosen to receive a government grant titled, “Start Strong” that helps youth understand and combat abusive relationships. Dustin became the Idaho State Representative for Start Strong to assist with teaching youth about healthy and unhealthy relationship and the damage caused by unhealthy relationships on an individual’s emotional well-being. In addition to his passion working with Start Strong he is an Eagle Scout and won the US Marine Corp Distinguished Athlete Award; American Legion Eagle Scout of the Year; and the Idaho Outstanding Individual Scholastic Award to name a few of his achievements.

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Shelbi Draper
Whitefield Academy
Louisville, KY
Jacob Saltsman, Principal

Until she was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, Shelbi Draper had no idea of the effects and fatality of the disease. She now believes education is the key to finding a cure and is dedicated to educating her peers and others so they can understand that kids as young as she is die every year because of this disease.  Shelbi raised over $3,000 for muscular dystrophy research and inspired others to participate in the Muscular Dystrophy walk to raise much need funding. She is active in her community and assisted in building houses for the victims of Katrina. Jacob Saltsman, principal of her high school stated that she is the most inspirational young lady he ever met.

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Taylor Pelletier
Ft. Kent Community High School
Ft. Kent; ME
Timothy Doak, Principal

According to her principal, Timothy Doak, Taylor Pelletier has demonstrated her student leadership capabilities through being an independent individual who thrives on not being the norm in high school and has worked hard to establish herself as a class leader. Taylor is an advocate for non-traditional school programs such as drama, wrestling, and community involvement. She is the type of student who is not pressured into being someone who she is not and will help all students become better people. She knows her generation can be leaders; can make a difference in just a few words; can change a life by being friends with someone who sits alone at a lunch table; and can change a life by standing up for what we believe in. A leader can change a life. She will change a life.

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Olivia Duenow
Chaska High School
Chaska, MN
David Brecht, Principal

Olivia’s experience with high school leadership focused on creating situations to allow students equality – feeling this is crucial. Students are constantly faced with judgments and stereotyping, and by providing opportunities of equality we can save emotional lives. Through her work as president of a club named Fun Times, she had the opportunity to create such situations. She works to integrate special needs students with mainstreamed learners and in the process has created a climate of equality. She’s seen that simple actions of leadership, such as acknowledging these students in the hall or asking them about what they did last weekend, is enough to save a life. To her, it’s these little things that truly save lives.

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Lili Chasen
West Babylon Senior High School
West Babylon, NY
Ellice Vassals, Principal

Lily Chasen served as Head Student Coordinator in World AIDS Day, held at her school on December 1. With a theme of “You Are Not Alone” she along with other classmates created an assembly incorporating theatre, music, humor and power point presentations showing compassion for those afflicted with HIV while also educating students on ways to help prevent the spread of AIDS. Also, while volunteering as a student leader in a social skills program for  elementary age autistic students she produced a thirty-minute educational video titled “You and Me: A Play Date With Autism” to show the fun and happy side of children with autism. “There is a saying ‘leadership is attitude not position’ and Lily exemplifies this,” said Ellice Vassals, principal of West Babylon, it is her attitude that enables her to work with all members of the school community to bring about change. Her peers respect this about her and willingly work with her in various endeavors. She inspires people to follow and then to become leaders as well.”

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