Student exceeds own expectation, earns nomination
LAUGHLIN — Jason Zenefski believes it is his duty to give back to the community and that belief could be a the reason he is one of four nominees for the Connie Davis Youth Citizen of the Year Award for the Laughlin Chamber of Commerce Community Achievement Awards.
“I was excited because I didn’t even know it was an award, so it was nice to get nominated for it,” Zenefski said.
Zenefski is president of the Interact Club, a high school extension of the Rotary Club of Laughlin. Rotary Club is an international organization focused on humanitarian service and advance goodwill and peace around the world.
The Interact Club recently completed the Purple Pinkie Project, Zenefski said.
“It goes toward eradicating polio,” he said. “We raised $94.25 and $1 buys three vaccines. We earned a lot of money that will help to eradicate it in Africa.”
The group also participates in a program called Crutches for Africa, he said, to get mobility devices to those who’ve been impacted by polio.
Interact helps with various events and raises money to donate, he said.
“The yearlong community project is to get hygiene products to kids in need especially during the summer so they can stay clean,” said Zenefski.
He couldn’t be involved with student council previously because he was already busy but when his family moved to Laughlin there was a chance to join and so he did, he continued.
Student Council is responsible for putting on programs such as homecoming, where Zenefski was crowned king of the “There’s No Place Like Homecoming” themed event.
Student Council also does a program called Socktober, which is a fundraiser to get socks donated to the homeless, he said.
“We also have Week of Respect coming up,” said Zenefski. “It’s all about promoting respect throughout the school.”
Then there is SPUD Week, Students Performing Unselfish Deeds, he said. Each day of the week is focused on collecting a different type of item to be donated such as Monday is for clothes and Wednesday is for hygiene products.
He is also an Eagle Scout, vice president of the National Honor Society, student body treasurer and runs in cross country and track, all while maintaining a grade point average of 4.50.
“I got in National Honor Society just from doing school work,” he said with a grin. He’s currently taking Advanced Placement Biology, A.P. Statistics and A.P. Language.
His dedication to service doesn’t end with high school. Zenefski said he plans to go to college and he wants to go into the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Brigham Young University Provo with plans to go into medicine.
“I’ve always wanted to be in the military as a kid and I feel like it’s an obligation I think,” said Zenefski. “America’s given a lot of great things like mostly free education so it is our duty to give back. A few years ago I became a lifeguard and I really fell in love with the whole first aid and saving lives aspect of it.”
The original goal was to be a combat medic but he can’t go into ROTC and be a combat medic so he’s choosing ROTC, he said.
“His dad and I are extremely proud of Jason and all of our six children who have turned into responsible and productive adults,” said his mother Heidi Zenefski, who is the Interact Club sponsor and a teacher at Laughlin Junior Senior High School. “Jason has exceeded our expectations and has set his own bar pretty high. We feel the his intrinsic desire to succeed has led to his willingness to put forth the effort required to reach his goals.”
Heidi Zenefski created a bucket list for her son when he was in seventh grade and he set goals and has met every single one of them or exceeded them, she said.
“I think one of the things we are most proud of is how kind he is to other people,” said Heidi Zenefski. “He is a genuinely nice person and because of that quality people are drawn to him.”
She said she doesn’t know who nominated him for the award but they are grateful to that individual. It was a surprise for them and they were thrilled when he became a finalist, she continued.
The youth citizen of the year award is given to a high school senior who exhibits civic pride through community involvement through projects, clubs and organizations, volunteer work and extracurricular activities while maintaining at least a 2.0 grade point average.
The winner receives a $1,000 scholarship and the other three nominees win $500 scholarships each to be used at college or a vocational school.
“I’ve liked helping people,” Zenefski said. “I’ve always done service projects since I was little with my family in church so I guess that’s kind of taken root in me.”
He said he just likes feeling like he’s making his community a better place.
He and his family are looking forward to the Community Achievement Awards on Saturday, Oct. 27.