By Conrad Dudderar
A team of volunteers is being lauded for efforts serving students and staff at 13 Yukon Public Schools’ sites during the 2021-22 school year.
With more activities expected to resume this fall, more volunteer help will be needed in 2022-23.
“Our volunteers are invaluable,” said Dianna Mann, YPS volunteer programs coordinator. “When you stop and really think about the amount of work done, the time that they save and investment made in our students and school system, it’s truly astonishing.
“It’s really amazing that Yukon Public Schools has this many organized volunteer programs – and this many volunteers. It just shows a great investment from our community in our schools.”
YPS volunteer “years-of-service” award recipients and “Mentor of the Year” were honored during the May 12th school board meeting.
“Every year we recognize years of service and also recognize volunteer hours,” said Mann, in her fifth year leading the YPS volunteer office.
“We start at five years and go every five years – five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30. We’ve had it all the way up to 45 years, which is impressive.”
Twenty YPS volunteers earned years-of-service awards for the 2021-22 school year:
Five years – Courtney Arnold, Justin Copsin, Heather Copsin, Jeanne Holmes, Elizabeth Lofties, Alicia McLaughlin, Leslie Russell, Sabrina Schroeder, Anna Sharp, Kelly Swafford, Melissa Tribuzi, Chris Tribuzi, and Lauren Wendt.
10 years – Lu Ann Wernli, Kathy Miller, Freedom Barton, Mia Palacios Jimenez, and Jennifer Powers.
15 years – Elie Sawaya and Julia Jenkins.
YPS Mentor of the Year Lowell Entz started mentoring two students in middle school.
This dedicated Miller Mentor has continued working with them weekly them through high school.
“That’s always the goal of our mentor program,” Mann said. “For the mentor and student to build a positive relationship and follow each other as long as they are still in the school.”
Yukon’s school volunteers are asked to log their hours when they come help in the schools.
“We want to show the district the amount of community support we have,” Mann added. “We also want to show the teachers what an amazing support system we have, then hopefully, recruit the best teachers for our kiddos.”
YPS Helping Hand Karla Rayburn accumulated the most volunteer time during the 2021-22 school year – totaling 384 hours – to earn a bronze volunteer service pin.
“Karla has been a very longtime, devoted volunteer,” Mann said.
The Yukon school district’s volunteers are led by Helping Hands, who perform specific tasks like copying, laminating and organizing at all YPS sites.
YPS Miller Mentors become a positive influence after being paired “one-on-one” with students who needs more love, guidance and support. Each mentor commits to working with a student 30 minutes weekly throughout the school year.
The YPS volunteer-staffed vision and hearing screening program was canceled for 2021-22 – but should be back next fall. The vision and hearing screeners normally screen hundreds of students.
In a typical school year, more than 400 volunteers serve the Yukon school district.
Many YPS volunteers are parents who volunteer where they children attend school.
But others are retirees who often volunteer at various sites.
“Lu Ann Wernli and Kathy Miller, who both received 10-year awards this year, are fantastic volunteers who go all over the district,” Mann said.
Other volunteers serving Yukon schools include homeroom moms, and members of parent-teacher organizations and booster clubs.
Anyone interested in becoming a YPS volunteer is welcome to call (405) 354-3716.