JBPHH teen wins big state Military Youth of the Year award

Rosalyn Garcia
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Teen Center

Hannah Bethard is congratulated by personnel from the Senate during her recognition. Photos by Zachary Pigott

More than 100 people in the crowd sharply drew in their final breath before the winner was announced March 15.

The tension in the air could be felt by everyone present.

Gregory Doss, the director of Organizational Development for Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA), slowly drew in a long breath, and then announced, “Miss Hannah Bethard is the 2018 Hawaii State’s Military BGCA Youth of the Year!”

The crowd immediately erupted into shouts, squeals and applause.

“When I won, my hand flew to my face and I couldn’t stop beaming. I think that’s a pretty good indication of how I felt when they called me as the winner,” Bethard said.

The Youth of the Year competition is a leadership program created by BGCA that strives to develop future leaders.

Every year, traditional Boys and Girls Clubs as well as military affiliated Boys and Girls Clubs pick young teens from the age of 14-18 to represent their organization.

Above, Bethard reacts to her name being announced as the winner of the 2018 BGCA Youth of the Year award. Below, Bethard receives her giant scholarship check at the competition.

These young leaders then compete in their separate categories and the winners advance on to represent their clubs at the state, regional, and national level.

This title allows them to transform more than 1 million teen lives by being their voice and advocating for many teen and/or social issues in today’s society.

The teens who participated in the state level Youth of the Year competition had to complete a rigorous application, which included three letters of recommendations reflecting their leadership skills, academic excellence, and healthy lifestyle, four individually themed essays, school transcripts, and the preparation of a three minute speech which would be delivered at the State Capitol in front of an audience and panel of judges.

The morning started off with the teens giving their speeches followed by a 15-minute interview with the judges.

After the interviews concluded, the teens got the opportunity to be recognized for their achievements by both the Senate and House of Representatives where they were presented with framed certificates.

Bethard has been involved with Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam (JBPHH) Teen Center for more than three years.

She participates in many clubs at school and the center to include RJOTC, Cooking Club, Art Club, and SMART Girls (a female leadership, volunteering and empowerment club).

In her spare time, Bethard can be seen around the Teen Center with a paintbrush or pen in her hand, always working on her latest art project or poem.

Last year, she donated more than 20 hours of her time to create a custom Starry Night inspired painting to Hawaii Fi-Do’s (a nonprofit organization who provides service dogs for free to people with disabilities other than blindness in the state of Hawaii) annual fund-raising event.

One characteristic she possesses is her ability to perform slam poetry, which helped secure her win during this competition because she combined slam poetry with her speech.

What is slam poetry? “It’s very hard to describe,” Bethard said, “but it’s a jazzed up way of delivering spoken word while incorporating emotions, body movements, and competitive spirit.”

She often shares her poetry at open mic nights at the Teen Center.

An assistant at the JBPHH Teen Center described Bethard’s slam poetry as emotional, passionate and entrancing.

On the whole experience, Bethard said, “It was a pretty overwhelming day, but definitely in a good way, especially with all the support and hype the Teen Center staff and my friends gave me. I wouldn’t have been able to make it this far without them.”

With this victory, Bethard will have another opportunity to represent JBPHH and all of its teens later this summer in the BGCA Youth of the Year’s pacific regional competition.

For more information about the JBPHH Teen Center, call 448-1068 or visit www.facebook.com/jbphhteencenter.

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Category: Life & Leisure