24 students contend for top honor at annual event


MANSFIELD – Twenty-four Southern Tioga School District students will contend for the top spot of Youth Leader of Tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. tonight.

Former youth leader William Post, branch manger of the new First Heritage Federal Credit Union will be the keynote speaker for the 32nd annual program at New Covenant Academy, Extension Street.

The awards banquet is sponsored by the Mansfield Chamber of Commerce, and tickets are available at the Chamber office, First Heritage Credit Union, Northwest Savings Bank and First Citizens Community Bank.

A member of the Youth Leader program when he graduated from New Covenant Academy with honors in 2006, Post went to Nyack College on a Division II soccer scholarship.

He was a member of the Fed Challenge Team that put on a display analysis of the macro economy at the Federal Reserve in New York City.

He was president of a small group called “Heroes,” which fostered male leadership, and he volunteered in the construction of a free health clinic for the homeless in Queens, N.Y.

In 2008 Post transferred to Mansfield University where he graduated in 2009 in seven semesters with a bachelor of science degree in business management.

Post also completed three internships while working full time as an officer at the Juvenile Detention Center in Wellsboro.

He graduated from the leadership program of the Tioga County Development Corporation in 2011.

Over a four and a half year period in retail banking, Post received seven promotions, starting as an intern at First Citizens Community Bank and then went from part time teller to full time, then became a new accounts loan officer and a loan officer at the corporate office.

Post was head coach of the Mansfield High School junior varsity soccer team and assistant coach for the varsity soccer team in 2011.

He volunteers to train athletes who want to significantly better their skills in soccer.

As a musician, Post plays percussion, bass and guitar, enjoying many genres including heavy metal, Christian acoustic rock, classical, blues and jazz and classic rock.

He is on the leadership and worship teams at the Liberty Bible Church.

William is a member of the Mansfield Chamber of Commerce and serves on the Youth Leader Committee.

This year’s Youth Leader Candidates are, from Liberty High School:

Jess Gregory, son of Tom and Mary Gregory, Trout Run. Jess is a member of the Culture Club, Spanish Club, FBLA, Ski Club, Care Team-Peer Helper; Student Council, Key Club, Liberty Minute news reporter; Southern Tioga School Board student representative. He also played soccer, tennis and track and field.

Gregory also plays the violin, piano, mandolin and ukulele, is a member of the Tioga County Development Corporation Youth Leadership Program and a United Methodist Church Acolyte. He also volunteerd for the CROP walk, 30 Hour Famine, Special Olympics, Three Springs Ministries Progress Camp and youth group, was a youth leader for White Pine Vacation Bible School, and mows the Cogan House Cemetery.

Jess plans to attend Penn State University to study Biochemistry.

Deborah Brown, daughter of Eric and Sally Brown of Trout Run. Brown is a member of the volleyball and track and field teams. She is a member of FBLA, Key Club, National Honor Society, Ski Club, Battle of the Books, was on Homecoming Court and is her class treasurer.

She is co-editor of the school newspaper, a Peer Helpers volunteer, a member of band front, and was a Miss Flaming Foliage candidate.

She plans to attend Slippery Rock University to become a special education teacher.

Amanda L. Zeafla, daughter of Roy and Debbie Zeafla of Liberty. Zeafla is a member of band, SAR, chorus, Key Club; marching band, National Society of High School Scholars and Odyssey of the Mind. She is a volunteer for Elementary Writing Program, 4-H Teen Leader and Round-up, dance, church, Relay For Life and she is a babysitter.

She plans to attend college and pursue a career in early childhood education with added certification for special education and eventually earning a master’s degree.

Andrea Neff, daughter of Steve and Susan Neff of Trout Run. Neff plays volleyball, participates in track and field, Battle of the Books, National Honor Society, Key Club, Spanish Club and Ski Club. She also enjoys photography, spending free time with family and friends, Church Youth Group, being outdoors, snowboarding and babysitting.

Andrea plans to attend college to study photojournalism and journalism. Her long term plans include marriage and raising a family.

Randi Young, daughter of Romy and Robert Young of Liberty. Young is a member of the FBLA, Key Club, Yearbook, Student Council, Culture Club, Battle of the Books and National Honor Society. She also plays volleyball, tennis, participates in track and field, is a member of Ski Club, Prom Committee, worked on the school musical, 30 Hour Famine, Ice Cream Social, Concert Band, Wind Ensemble and Band Front, Three Springs Live Nativity and Operation Christmas Child.

Megan Wetzel, daughter of Shane and Sarah Wetzel of Trout Run. Wetzel was on the Yearbook Committee, Key Club, track and field, Spanish Club, Battle of the Books and National Honor Society. She also was in her Church Youth Group, worked at Fry’s Turkey Ranch, interned at Mountain Home Magazine, volunteered at local Vacation Bible School; and is a babysitter.

Megan plans to attend a state university majoring in communications and journalism.

Derik L. Ostrom, son of Annie and Scott Ostrom. Ostrom was on the soccer team, track and field, worked in tech support and participated in chorus. He also is in the National Guard.

He plans to attend Bloomsburg University to study computer forensics. He also plans to attend warrant officer school during his time in the military.

From Mansfield High School:

Samuel Rotella, son of Samuel and Deborah Rotella of Mansfield. Rotella is in the National Honor Society, plays basketball, baseball and football, is a member of FBLA , chosen to be on the Mansfield Court, participated in Mock Trial Team and Mock Interview coordinator and Tiger Cub Camp Coach.

He also played travel baseball, was a church Bingo volunteer and church cemetery project volunteer.

Sam plans to attend Lehigh University majoring in Business while playing baseball.

Emily M. Pruden, daughter of Dale and Julie Betts of Mansfield. Pruden played volleyball, was a member of Key Club, National Honor Society, volunteered for the Special Olympics and participated in Hoops 4 Heart. She is her class treasurer, is a member of FBLA and is a volunteer for Relay For Life. She also works at Pizza Hut and the Little Half Pint ice cream shop in the summer, and volunteers at the high school and elementary school book fairs each year.

She plans to attend Mansfield University to study environmental science.

Rani Johnson, daughter of Barbara Johnson. Johnson played volleyball and softball, participated in Odyssey of the Mind, was a member of Ski Club, the National Honor Society and Key Club.

She also participated in Hoops 4 Heart, was a Special Olympics volunteer; and was in Hamilton-Gibson Productions, and works at Perkins Restaurant.

Johnson plans to attend Bloomsburg University to study in the medical field.

Molly Kate Wood, daughter of Robert and Debra Wood of Mansfield. Wood played softball, soccer and basketball, was in the National Honor Society; volunteered at the Mansfield Food Pantry and is employed at the Main Twist ice cream shop.

She plans to attend Mansfield University majoring in sports nutrition with a minor in psychology.

Madison York, daughter of Bret York and Becky and Dave Redell of Mansfield. York was a member of the National Honor Society, played volleyball, basketball and softball and was on the Miss Mansfield Court. She also participated in Relay For Life and volunteered for Little League softball and the Special Olympics.

She plans to attend Bloomsburg University majoring in exercise science while playing softball.

Dakota Alexyn, son of David and Rita Alexyn of Mansfield. Alexyn played golf, tennis and basketball and was in FBLA,. He also is a member of the National Honor Society; Ski Club, participated in Mock Trial and was a Miss Mansfield Court member. She also works at the Corey Creek Golf Club and is a member of West Branch Tennis Club.

He hopes to attend Wharton School of Business at Penn State, and possibly attend law school afterwards.

Noelle Payne, daughter of Tim and Cyndi Payne of Mansfield. Payne is a member of FBLA, Key Club, Student Council, tennis team, Boy’s tennis team manager, softball, chorus, band, Jubilation and Miss Flaming Foliage candidate. She also plays piano, volunteers for the Roseville UMC bible school; is a horse show contender and Hamilton Woodruff Scholarship BBQ volunteer.

She plans to attend college majoring in equine studies.

Jessica Crum, daughter of Michael and Linda Crum of Mansfield. Crum was a member of FBLA, the National Honor Society, on the Miss Mansfield Court, chorus, in Jubilation, small group vocal ensemble, band and Vacation Bible School at the First UMC. She also was in Key Club;, on yearbook committee, semi formal committee, District Chorus, Junior High Choral Ensemble Director, Vocal Master class at MU, National Anthem performer at high school sporting events and other community events, Hugh O’Brien Youth Leader Ambassador, mock Senate committee, Odyssey of the Mind, County Chorus and played tennis. She has taken piano lessons, dance classes, been on the “Footwork” dance competition team, participated in the “Rockette Experience,” Relay For Life, took voice lessons, was a library volunteer, member of church youth group and choir, church acolyte, sang at local nursing homes, is employed at the Wren’s Nest restaurant is a babysitter, performed at local coffee houses, is a singer and songwriter and plays several instruments.

From New Covenant Academy:

Kilmer Merritt-Gawe, son of Thomas Gawe and Robyn Merritt-Gawe. He is a member of Student Council, Tioga County Development Corporation’s Youth Leadership Program, FBLA, National Honor Society, Prom Committee, chorus, school worship team and is an athletics bookkeeper. He also is a member of the People to People Student Ambassador team, Hamilton-Gibson Productions; member of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Tioga, member of Reckless Abandon Youth Group and a volunteer at Riverside Elementary School.

He plans to attend a private university double majoring in English and Psychology. He then plans to obtain master’s and doctorate degrees in English Education and another in Educational Psychology.

Whitney Suzanne Van Loon, daughter of David and Diana Van Loon of Mansfield. She was president of her class, a member of Student Council, worship team leader, select choir, soccer, basketball and track and field letterman, HOBY representative and select choir member. She also was a member of Christian Hope Center, Ignite Youth Group, missions trip to Mexico, Food Pantry volunteer, works part time at McDonald’s and helps with 3 and 4 year old Sunday school class every other week.

She plans to attend a Bible college to secure her foundation in Christ, taking many trips to Ghana, Africa to serve in the orphanage her church has been building and to become a teacher.

Daniel Llewellyn, son of James and Cindy Llewellyn of Wellsboro. Llewellyn made high honor roll three years of high school, served as class president and student council representative, was a member of the Tioga County Youth Leadership Program, earned an Exemplary Citizen Award, played soccer, member of Ski Club and won a National Fitness Award. He also won an Excellence Award in the state Association of Baptist Churches competition for public speaking, Special Olympics volunteer, Dexter Baptist Church choir, won a Meritorious Award as a member of the Bible Quiz Team, was a team leader at Pennwood Bible Camp, did lawn care and odd jobs, worked on a pig farm, competed in the county fair for photography, won an award for photography in a state wide competition, plays guitar, enjoys fishing, fly fishing, hunting and archery.

From North Penn High School:

Kirsten M. Berguson, daughter of Dan and Susan Berguson of Blossburg. Berguson is a member of Student Council, National Honor Society, played volleyball, basketball, softball and participated in track and field, chorus, band and Ski Club. She works at Bergy’s Place, and assists with Sunday School and Vacation Bible School at her church.

She enjoys hunting, fishing, horseback riding, skiing, camping and spending time with family and friends.

She plans to attend Mansfield University majoring in nursing.

Andrew Craig, son of Scott and Betsy Craig of Covington. He is a member of the National Honor Society and Student Council, in concert band, jazz band, played football and basketball. He also was in Youth Group, played piano, was elementary basketball coach and a AWANA helper.

He plans to attend college majoring in environmental science.

Mackenzie Ford, daughter of Renee Ford of Blossburg. She played volleyball and basketball and was on the swim team. She also was a member of the National Honor Society, in the elementary basketball program, tutoring elementary students program and a member of the Wellsboro Swim Team. She also was a lifeguard at Island Park and an employee at Li’l Half Pint ice cream store.

She plans to attend Lock Haven or Bloomsburg University.

Zachary Gaylord-Everett, son of Lisa and Marty Everett of Covington. He was in band, marching band, percussion ensemble and color guard, was vice president of his class, was in National Honor Society, a percussion instructor at Blossburg Elementary School and was on Homecoming Court. He also was in Drum Corps Associates, The Hawthorne Cabelleros Drum and Bugle Corps, participated in Tournament of Bands All-Star Band Thanksgiving Day Parade, attended music camps including Honors Instrumental Camp and MU, enrolled as ACE student through Corning Community College and Mansfield Dual Enrollment program, worked as a website developer for Covington Church of Christ and Covington Township. Helps at Area Agency on Aging events.

He plans to attend college majoring in Music Education and minoring in Business.

Autumn Long, daughter of Heather Reed of Arnot. Long played volleyball and was in the National Honor Society. She enjoys being with friends and family.

She plans to attend college to study Marine Biology.

Alyssa Strausser, daughter of Angie and Chris Strausser of Covington. She was a member of Key Club, participated in track and field; played softball and basketball; was on the National Honor Society and won the United States Achievement Academy 2010 award. She also enjoys hunting, fishing, four-wheeler riding and working at the family business, Black Bear Construction.

She plans to become a state trooper in Maine and then retire to be a Game Warden and Registered Maine Hunting Guide.