Column: Young Swensson nominees set a high bar

Around this time each year  — just ahead of the Township’s annual Volunteer Appreciation and Awards Evening — nominees for the Pete Swensson Outstanding Community Youth Award  are announced.

Soon afterward, a pile of fairly impressive resumés lands in our newsroom.

When they arrive, those of us offered a sneak peak usually breathe a collective sigh, and then take turns wondering aloud at our own misspent youth.

What exactly were we doing with our free time back then, anyway?

Well, there were video games to be played, of course, and malls to be wandered around in. On those rare days we had a bit of extra cash, maybe a bit of  shopping to do.

Those of us lucky enough to have a licence and access to a car usually found no end of excuses to drive somewhere for some reason or other.

Many of us earned decent grades, of course. Others perhaps excelled at a sport or two, still others may have belonged to a school club, held a part-time job or offered a bit of spare time at no charge to help out a good cause.

None of those accomplishments on its own — or, for that matter, in pairs — would have landed any of us on the shortlist for the Swensson.

The award, which will be presented tomorrow evening to one of nine nominees, (one from each Langley high school) is given to a  student in Grade 11 or 12, whose name is put forward by his or her school, to recognize athletic achievements, scholastic effort, community involvement, and personal qualities.

That’s and, not or.

Of course, only one of the nine will walk away with the honour. But this year — as it does every year — the field of nominees gives us high hopes for the future.

The teens have been described by one Times staffer, who met them all while taking their photos, as a “uniformly impressive, intelligent and articulate” bunch. Each one is a credit to his or her family and school.

Lucky for us, that kind of dedication to community doesn’t just vanish with the handoff of a high school diploma.

Once their education is complete, no doubt some of these teens will  continue to be a driving force in Langley, donating their time and effort to help ensure that the organizations and events that depend on volunteer labour continue to thrive in the Township (and, of course, the City).

Which means we’ll likely be seeing some of them back at the volunteer banquet in coming years to accept the municipality’s thanks in the form of a nomination for an Eric Flowerdew Good Citizen award or a John and Muriel Arnason award — both of which will also be handed out tomorrow evening.

Without volunteers, community events that draw thousands of visitors each year to both Langleys, including the annual Good Times Cruise-In, Earth Day cleanup and the annual Terry Fox Run, to name but a few, wouldn’t happen.

Earlier this year, the City honoured its own team of volunteers. Now it’s the Township’s turn. It’s only right that once a year, the community pauses to acknowledge their contribution.

The events and organizations we take for granted either wouldn’t exist or would be much poorer affairs without their efforts.

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