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Allison Jenks is Gazette’s first Young Community Leader Award winner

  • Allison Jenks, the recipient of the Gazette's Youth Community Leadership award at Hopkins Academy in Hadley. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Allison Jenks, the recipient of the Gazette's Youth Community Leadership award at Hopkins Academy in Hadley. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Allison Jenks, the recipient of the Gazette's Youth Community Leadership award at Hopkins Academy in Hadley. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Allison Jenks, the recipient of the Gazette's Youth Community Leadership award at Hopkins Academy in Hadley. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Allison Jenks, the recipient of the Gazette's Youth Community Leadership award at Hopkins Academy in Hadley. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Allison Jenks, the recipient of the Gazette's Youth Community Leadership award at Hopkins Academy in Hadley. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Allison Jenks, the recipient of the Gazette's Youth Community Leadership award at Hopkins Academy in Hadley. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Allison Jenks, the recipient of the Gazette's Young Community Leader award, is shown at Hopkins Academy in Hadley. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS



@JackSuntrup
Tuesday, March 07, 2017

HADLEY — Allison Jenks has always set an example for others, regardless of whether she knew it or not.

In dance class as a kid, “The other kids who were unsure of what they were supposed to be doing — they would look to her,” said her grandmother, Linda Goulet. “I’m not even sure she realized it.”

Now, Jenks is set to graduate Hopkins Academy in June with an impressive list of accomplishments under her belt. The latest one comes with receiving the Gazette’s first Young Community Leader Award.

Jenks and the winner of the Gazette’s third annual “Person of the Year” award, Barbara Black, will be honored Tuesday, April 25, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst.

“It’s a great honor,” she said, adding she did not know she had been nominated. “It made me realize all the stuff I do has an effect on people, and it’s a good one.”

Jenks, who is 18, also is the president of the school’s Pro Merito Honor Society, was captain of the girls basketball and soccer teams, serves on the Student Council, plays in the band and is a peer mentor. And she works 15 to 20 hours a week during the school year at T.J.Maxx and at the Maple Valley Creamery & Local Scoop Shop.

On top of all that, she has homework.

“I usually don’t go to bed too early, because I try to be a good student,” Jenks said.

“Allison is a face everyone knows and everyone trusts,” school counselor Angela Cullinan said in a nomination letter.

Jenks said she hasn’t always been so outgoing. She transferred to Hopkins Academy in seventh grade from another town’s school system because of bullying issues.

“I used to be kind of the quiet, nerdy reader,” she said. “I would just read during recess and, like, not talk to anyone. And then I came here, and I got older and more mature.

“And the people here are great, too — the Hadley community and Hopkins,” she said. “So it definitely helped me feel more comfortable.”

On the basketball court or on the soccer field, she said, she encourages perseverance.

“If I know someone’s not giving 100 percent effort, I will keep pushing them,” she said.

Last year, the Hopkins girls soccer team won its first league championship since 1996, a feat Jenks attributed to the team’s talent, camaraderie and hard work.

“It was a combination of skill, team chemistry and just working hard,” she said of the reason behind the team’s success. She said she looked up drills for “captain’s practices” over the summer. She said she also made the team run.

“And I would run with them, but we would all run to get in shape,” Jenks said.

Senior year is a busy time, especially with so many extracurricular activities. Jenks said she is stressed, but handles it through exercise.

“I like exercising a lot, so that’s how I relieve my stress, because otherwise I don’t know what I would do,” she said.

She also just got back from a volunteer trip to Nicaragua with eight other Hopkins students. The group stayed in the Granada region and worked from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the group La Esperanza Granada. “Esperanza” means “hope” in English.

Jenks said she gained some perspective on her first trip abroad. Despite evident poverty, the people are happy, she said.

“It humbled me a lot because the people there are the happiest people I’ve ever met in my life,” Jenks said. “They’re still so happy and appreciative of everything they have.”

With the youth leadership award, Jenks will receive $250 — $125 for her and another $125 for the charity of her choice. She said, if possible, she would like to donate to La Esperanza Granada.

As for her future, Jenks said she has a keen interest in biology and would like to work in a lab after she finishes college.

“I like the cellular level,” she said. “I’m just fascinated by cells and all that stuff. It sounds nerdy, but I am.”

She has a long list of possibilities for the fall, applying to a dozen schools.

Her top picks are the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of Rhode Island and the University of Connecticut.

Her parents are Gina and Shaun Jenks. Her sister, Samantha Jenks, is a sophomore at Hopkins Academy.

Tickets to the April 25 banquet are $29 per person or $26 per person for a table of eight.

All proceeds benefit the United Way of Hampshire County. Tickets are available online. Contact Laura Dintino at 413-585-5207 for more information.

Jack Suntrup can be reached at jsuntrup@gazettenet.com.