Arts Academy students earn national and state awards for community service impact

Soph Stentz, Elizabeth Xakellis, and Aanya Khairari received recognition from the United Nations Association of the USA and the Michigan Community Service Commission.

A graphic from the United Nations honoring Interlochen Arts Academy's Community Service Impact Award winners.

Three Interlochen Arts Academy students have received national and state awards for community service.

Soph Stentz, Elizabeth Xakellis, and Aanya Khairari have been recognized by the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) and InnerView Technologies in the seventh Annual Community Service Impact Awards. This program, open to all U.S. students, has been designed to connect student community service activities, skill development, and commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to transform our world. The three-tier award program recognizes a range of student achievement: Merit for 30 hours, Honor for 60 hours, and Ambassador for 100 hours of service this school year—-plus special recognition for a focus on Zero Hunger and Zero Waste.

“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a framework for addressing the world’s most pressing challenges,” says Rachel Bowen Pittman, Executive Director of the United Nations Association of the USA. “They also present a unique opportunity for UN member states, grassroots organizations, and advocates to work together to create a better future for everyone. Youth play a pivotal role in driving change forward, now more than ever. As an intergenerational movement of dedicated Americans, UNA-USA is committed to supporting the work of the vital work of the United Nations and SDGs. We are thrilled to partner with InnerView again this year and celebrate the impact youth have made in advancing the SDGs. Congratulations to this year’s awardees for their dedication and inspired action!”

“High school students have a strong perspective on the most challenging issues and needs facing our communities. These awardees exemplify young leadership, harnessing their passion and skills to enact positive change in their communities and beyond,” says Kristine Sturgeon, CEO of InnerView Technologies. “We feel privileged to work alongside these change-makers daily, supporting their journey, unlocking opportunities, and commemorating their achievements."

Stentz, a junior creative writing major from Cincinnati, Ohio, received an Ambassador Award for completing more than 100 hours of community service at Interlochen Arts Academy and beyond. Her contributions include serving as a Writing House monitor; leading Interlochen Arts Academy’s chapter of Students Demand Action; and tutoring a Ukrainian student in English through ENGin.

Xakellis, a senior theatre major from Lake Forest, Illinois, was named an Honor Awardee for completing more than 60 hours of community service. Xakellis’ service at Interlochen Arts Academy includes working as a math/science assistant, serving meals in Stone Cafeteria, and participating in Interlochen’s chapter of Students Demand Action.

Aanya Khairari, a sophomore creative writing major from Moorestown, New Jersey, received a Merit Award for completing more than 30 hours of community service.

In addition to their awards from UNA-USA, Stentz, Xakellis, and Khairari also received Michigan Community Impact Awards from the Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC)—a special recognition that celebrates youth volunteers who exemplify citizenship and demonstrate exceptional commitment to service to their school, community, and global activities.

"We are so proud to recognize the efforts of the Michigan youth who chose to give their valuable time to help others," said Michigan Community Service Commission Executive Director Ginna Holmes. "Youth understand the power of volunteering and the importance their actions have in strengthening communities. Their passion and strong desire to make an impact is inspiring."