Extra Credit: Memphis Catholic High School - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Extra Credit: Memphis Catholic High School

(WMC-TV) - Having won the title the past two school years, Memphis Catholic High Students in Action are hoping for a three-peat as the MidSouth regional award winner for community service by a high school.

But what made the pot even sweeter was getting national recognition for their efforts this summer in Washington, D.C., at the 39th Annual Jefferson Awards ceremony.

The event recognized 103 recipients with one of the nation's highest honors for community service and volunteerism. The Students In Action are the MidSouth recipients for Outstanding Service by a High School.

''The Students in Action team... they work throughout the year to promote volunteerism through their school and also kinda come up with projects that students can become involved with,"explained MCH faculty advisor Dani Raye Barton.

Catholic High School students are required to perform at least 20 hours of community service throughout the year, but even school administrators were surprised to find students doubled those hours 2 years ago, and yet again this past school year.

Senior Gene Lamanilao is involved in numerous volunteer actitivities. "I've tutored with Rachel's Kids where every Monday and Tuesday I would help children from the Binghampton area. I'd help them with their homework and stuff and I've also volunteered at a soup kitchen in a church downtown," he said.

And then there are several charity walks and 5ks throughout the year for which the students volunteer their time to hand out water, T-shirts, or whatever is needed.

Even while the Students In Action were in our nation's capitol for the Jefferson Awards, they still took the time to volunteer at a farm and a retirement home before receiving what's called the "Nobel Prize" for public service.

Senior Janette Villanueva says the whole trip is something she'll never forget.

"It was an amazing experience. I could see other students trying to do what we're doing: going out trying to help, give our service and do what we can to help our communities," she said.

In addition to the 20 hours of required volunteer work, Catholic High Students also have corporate internships to help pay for their tuition, which administrators believe has opened their students' eyes to how the community is helping them which, in turn, encourages the students to want to give back, as well.

Barton believes the Jefferson Awards program has shown those students that they can make a difference in the world, right now, as long as they're passionate about their community.

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