They may be ‘Junior’ Achievers but what they achieved was grown-up, indeed

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Junior Achievement’s ’18 Under 18′ honorees gathered to receive deserved recognition. Photos by Billy Hardiman for Wrangler News

Junior Achievement recognizes three outstanding students from Tempe

Junior Achievement’s “18 Under 18 Awards” gives outstanding teens in Arizona the recognition that they deserve for their display of leadership, community service and entrepreneurial spirit.

Three of those 18, who were selected from around the state, call Tempe home and work hard each day to make their community a better place.

Their efforts are the kind of good-news story that doesn’t always make the headlines–but is worth telling–so Wrangler readers know about the successful accomplishments, inspirational behaviors, and boundless energy of Corona students, Joe Ross and Tatum Stolworthy, along with Saul Ontiveros, who attends Tempe High.

Joe Ross:

Without a crystal ball in hand, it’s impossible to know for sure, but Joe Ross, a senior at Corona Del Sol High School, exhibits skills that may lead him to Capitol Hill one day.

He already has the community involvement experience under his belt–which earned him the attention of Junior Achievement– as a participant of Corona’s German and Key clubs, the National Honor Society and as a member of Tempe Sister Cities Junior Achievement’s Young Ambassadors.

“I was selected for the award due to my leadership at school and within the community,” said Ross.

“I also was an intern on John McCain’s senatorial campaign—all of these combined activities demonstrated my involvement and commitment to organizations that have strengthened our community.”

He says he thinks community service is important for young people.

“It’s critical for young people to be involved in civic and philanthropic organizations,” said Ross.

“Our future relies upon teenagers being informed in the governmental process to ensure a stronger and more informed future.

“And, because I enjoy participating in my community, it’s not something that I look at as a burden.”

After graduation this spring, Ross plans to attend University of Arizona to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Law and then attend law school. The move to Tucson will be his first time living outside Tempe, as he attended Waggoner Elementary and Kyrene Middle School.

Tatum Stolworthy and Joe Ross of Corona del Sol received high remarks for their leadership skills and community involvement.

Saul 0ntiveros:

As a senior, who attends Tempe High School, Saul Ontiveros continues a community-service legacy that began as a student at Gililland Middle School.  He sees helping others as his calling in life.

“I’ve been promoting service for people who don’t know what it means to help people, who don’t know how to do it yet,” said Ontiveros. “But, I help people to get out of their comfort zones to make the world a better place.”

He developed keen powers of observation in watching his parents struggle to adjust to a new country and to provide for their children.

“My parent immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico and I’ve watched them work hard to provide for our family,” said Ontiveros.

“When I was younger, my family did not have the financial income to support our family. Although my parents worked tirelessly to ensure we had a good, safe life, we often relied on others to also help our family.

“As a result, we were able to thrive and become a loving home. I am incredibly grateful for this. I want to help others just as I was helped because it is my duty.”

Out of his appreciation and awareness that other families also need assistance, he started a community service club in middle school that was similar to the Key Club; and, he continued his involvement in high school.

He says that the Key Club at Tempe High has about 130 members, who work on a variety of community service projects.

“The first project I remember was the Pillowcase Project for Children’s Miracle Network. Our club purchased empty hospital pillowcases and we decorated them with colorful designs for the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. We also made crafts and toys for the younger children in the hospital,” said Ontiveros.

“Another project was our annual walk for UNICEF. We hold a mini carnival at our school and give all proceeds to UNICEF for the Eliminate Project– a project dedicated to eradicating maternal neonatal tetanus.”

This year, he expanded his role in Key Club to serve on the board of directors for Key Club International and recently attended a conference in Dallas.

Although he hasn’t made a definite decision on what school to attend after graduating high school, he is proud to say that he will be the first person in his family to pursue a college education.

Tatum Stolworthy:

The future of students in Tempe definitely shines brighter because of the compassion and caring of Tatum Stolworthy, a senior at Corona del Sol High School.

In response to a tragedy–the suicide of a family friend and fellow Corona student– she created an entire movement to let kids with concerns know that they are not alone.

First she started a new club at school, known as #AZTEC Strong, whose members actively work on activities to include all students, such as “Friends Friday,” which is a chance for Corona students to gather for a pizza lunch and camaraderie.

“We usually have about 60 kids who come to the lunch,” said Stolworthy, “and it gives everyone a chance o meet others, make new friends and to spread a message of hope and awareness.”

#AZTEC Strong also is responsible for a message on every student’s ID badge in the Tempe Union High School district, which encourages them to seek help through the Teen Life Line organization. She says this took a lot of effort, but is a daily reminder to all students that help is available.

The club’s members also meet monthly to discuss ways they can continue to reach out to troubled teen to prevent suicide.

In addition, Stolworthy is a talented singer, who recorded a song called “In the Light,” which is featured in a You-Tube video with other members of #AZTEC Strong. Since it’s posting in November 2017, the song has attracted more than 200,000 views.

Her efforts garnered the attention of former TUHSD superintendent Dr. Kenneth Baca, who recommended her for the recognition by Junior Achievement.

She’s proud of the award, but even more proud of the message of #AZTEC Strong and the affiliation the club started with Teen Lifeline.

“We want to share a message of hope for all teens,” said Stolworthy, “and that it’s important to treat all people correctly and with kindness.”

Neil Giuliano, above, former mayor of Tempe, spoke at the ’18 under 18′ event honoring high school teens lauded by Junior Achievement of Arizona.
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