South Tahoe High School students wandered through the student union Thursday to learn about volunteer opportunities during the first-ever AVID Community Leadership Fair. AVID, or Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a college-readiness system for elementary, middle and high school students. Leadership training is a key component of the program, and instilling a commitment to service is way to develop young leaders, AVID co-chairman and STHS teacher Frank Kovac said. “We always try and improve every year, and one of the things we thought we could improve on was community service. This all kind of stems from my dad's philosophy that leadership comes from service. We hope they'll have a better idea of where they can plug into the community to help,” Kovac said. Those opportunities range from deep cleaning the Bread & Broth kitchen at St. Theresa to starting a teen advocacy group with Live Violence Free. Eleven organizations — including Barton Health, Tahoe Youth and Family Services and Soroptimist International of South Lake Tahoe — set up booths Thursday for the fair to raise awareness and inspire young volunteers. “It's always such a good feeling that we have that we can always rely on (Frank Kovac's) support. It's very rewarding for students to get involved with volunteering, they just don't always know how to do it. All people need to have some sense of giving back, or paying it forward,” Bread & Broth volunteer Cornelia Tolley said. Students crowded the University of California Cooperative Extension nutrition program table Thursday to test their serving-size savvy. Nutrition educator Kathy Martinez said the new South Lake Tahoe program needs volunteers, and that the Community Leadership Fair provided a good opportunity to spread the word about healthy eating habits. STHS ninth-grader Audrey Langmayer listened to a League to Save Lake Tahoe spokeswoman list the volunteer opportunities offered by the organization. Langmayer said the group that really stood out in her mind though was the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA. “I like it. I think it's a great way to learn about your community and learn about the ways to volunteer,” she said. As college applications become increasingly competitive, it doesn't hurt to have community service listed on your resume. Bijou Community School teacher Bob Hickman said students could receive a letter of recommendation if they volunteered enough hours with the school. And in a small community like South Lake Tahoe, some of the students Thursday might have been looking at their future employer. “In a town this size, this is the person who might hire you,” Kovac said.
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