At the April 25 breakfast meeting of the West End Rotary Club, three Pleasant Valley High School juniors were honored for their winning essays. This year's topic for Rotary District 7410 was "Describe your personal role model and how they influenced you to make a difference in your community."

Elaine Ackroyd-Kelly, WERC Youth Services chair and Jill Rehrig, WERC president, presented the awards.

The 2013 winners are: 1st place, Nina Rose M. Giambalvo; 2nd place, Rachel Wenrich; 3rd place, Katheryn Hull.

The students received "Certificates of Achievement" and monetary awards in the amounts of $150 for first, $100 for second, and $75 for third. The first place essay was forwarded to District 7410 headquarters where it will be judged along with the essays from the approximately 50 high schools in the district. The district essay awards will be presented in June 2013.

Giambalvo selected her mother as her role model, and indicated that her parents "felt it was an important value to contribute to the family and neighborhood because charity starts at home and our neighborhood is important to our home." She is currently part of several organizations for which she volunteers, such as the LEO and KEY clubs at her high school, Wesley Enhanced Living, Mrs. Bush's Personal Care Homes, and AWSOM. She is also a member of the Pocono Medical Explorers, is a junior sergeant-at-arms for the American Legion Unit 928, and is active in the local Italian Heritage group.

Wenrich wrote that her role model inspired her to "volunteer for something that you are passionate about," which in her case is volunteering at an animal shelter, the Special Olympics, helping build a memorial garden, participating in Relay for Life, donating her clothing to families in need and teaching children to ride horses through Equi-Librium for disabled youth.

Hull wrote that her older brother was her personal role model and inspired her to participate in her community by volunteering at a day care center, and teaching autistic children to ride horses at the local Equil-Librium horse farm. Her older brother died in a car accident this past December.

"Rotary's purpose in sponsoring programs like the essay contest is that it helps students improve their writing abilities, self-confidence and leadership skills. It also encourages young people to embrace community service early in their lives and careers," said Ackroyd-Kelly.

The West End Rotary is part of Rotary International, a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders that provide humanitarian service and encourage high ethical standards in all vocations. At the local level the Rotary Club conducts several fundraisers to support students (Essay Contest and RYLA summer camp), firefighters, police, libraries, the Pleasant Valley Ecumenical Network and other needs within the community.