Each year, The Malibu Times recognizes local students for their dedication to their schools and the local community. The recipients arechosen by teachers, administrators and peers at their respective schools. The Malibu Times Citizenship Awards were established in 1987 to acknowledge students who show commitment to the community and demonstrate a concern for the rights and needs of others.
For detailed information about each winner, click on their photo.
While at Juan Cabrillo Elementary School, Tess O’Neill has spent many hours helping the school. On a day to day basis, O’Neill often helps cleaning up after art classes and setting up for events. For the bigger events, including the Disco Dance and the St. Patrick’s Day fundraiser, O’Neill showed her community spirit by helping with the decorations. Last year, O’Neill spent time over weekends to help paint colorful booths for Fiesta Malibu, Juan Cabrillo’s annual community-wide fundraiser, which will be used for years to come. O’Neill also participates in the school’s reading buddy program and shared that she loves “being a part of such a supportive community of teachers and students.”
Juan Cabrillo Elementary School student Yadany Alavez has been described as an “exemplary citizen.” Alavez helps around the classroom and school, as well as with her family and the community beyond Juan Cabrillo. Throughout her time at the school, Alavez has stayed after school almost every day to assist her teacher, including cleaning, correcting work and organizing. Alavez has helped set up and organize Juan Cabrillo events, including Fiesta Malibu, ELAC meetings and the yearly Kindergarten Round-Up. Alavez is also a member of a basketball team near her home.
While at Malibu High School, Claire Thomsen’s need to help others extended globally. Thomsen traveled around the world for one year, creating a charitable project with help from partner READ Global that raised $50,000 to build a library in rural Bhutan. When she returned, she performed a TEDx talk about her experience. Thomsen said, “My experience in fundraising for three years on my own as a young teen taught me so much about humility, perseverance, hard work and the joy of helping others.” When not traveling to help the global community, Thomsen is also a local leader, taking on the role of co-president of the MHS Gay/Straight Alliance Club and co-directing the MHS Masque Talent Show for two years.
MUSE School ninth-grader Sequoia Beaver has demonstrated talent and grace while at MUSE. Beaver volunteers at the Skirball Center eight hours per month, facilitating children’s art projects. She led her high school classmates in a project to help clean up Corral Beach in Malibu, collecting 60 pounds of trash over five days. The project culminated with a formal letter written to President Obama, presenting a solution for the beach’s poor condition: to request that big corporations like Starbucks and McDonald’s use biodegradable materials to package their products. Beaver and her classmates received a letter of response from Obama, commending the class for its efforts. In addition to helping the environment, Beaver is in an accelerated academic program at MUSE, allowing her to co-enroll at Pierce College for a course in critical thinking.
Our Lady of Malibu School’s Jillian Neuner has shown her dedication to the school community in part through her role as vice president of Student Council. Neuner headed a campaign to raise money for pediatric cancer and participated in OLM’s first Math Angels program, helping tutoring students. She also participated in an anti-bullying campaign and the Long Walk to Water, raising money for the people of Sudan. She is also an active member at OLM Church, altar serving on many occasions. Neuner played volleyball for OLM as well as on a club team, all while maintaining straight A’s. She has been described as “a role model to her peers as well as younger students.” Neuner will begin ninth-grade at Marymount High School in the fall.
Eighth-grader Teresa Contino helped her Our Lady of Malibu School community by serving on the Student Council. Beyond helping the OLM campus, Contino helped raise funds for pediatric cancer. Contino demonstrated her ability to help OLM students by participating in the Math Angels tutoring program and helped others beyond Malibu by participating in the Long Walk to Water drive. Contino has been described as “a scholar as well as a role model to peers … she is kind and generous to all.” Contino participates in musical theater and recently played the role of Rizzo in OLM’s production of “Grease.” Contino will continue her education after OLM at Louisville High School.
Brianna Honkawa d’Estries joined Viewpoint School in her sophomore year and has made a lasting impact, including founding and taking on the role of president of the campus’ Animal Rights Club. While at Viewpoint, d’Estries was able to show her creative side when she earned an honorable mention at the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and a certificate of merit for the 16th annual High School Art Invitational. Taking a challenging course load, d’Estries is a global scholar, AP scholar with honors and a member of the Cum Laude and French Honor societies. Outside of school, d’Estries runs an international lifestyle and design blog. She will be heading to the University of California, Berkeley in the fall.
Webster Elementary fifth-grader Annika Bolander has made an effort throughout the school year to improve her classroom, her school and the community. Outside of the classroom, Bolander is involved with a variety of service projects through her church, including helping assemble dinners for the Ocean Park Community Center shelter in Santa Monica, as well as hygiene kits for Safe Place for Youth in Venice, which is a program designed to help homeless youth. Her interests include AYSO soccer, skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking and learning how to surf. She also plays the piano and cello. Bolander has been described as having “exceptional character” and that she can always be counted on to be honest and trustworthy.
While at Webster Elementary School, fifth-grader Stefan Colburn has demonstrated a large effort to help both his immediate community and beyond. When Colburn learned that some people in Tijuana live in cardboard boxes, he donated supplies to help with their day to day life. In response to the earthquake in Nepal, Colburn donated money for rebuilding efforts. Locally, Colburn has helped out with the Malibu Community Labor Exchange by shopping for, transporting and serving food to people. He assists with the annual holiday drive where toys and clothing are collected for the workers. Colburn is deserving of the award “because he takes responsibility to help others locally and globally, he celebrates diversity, and he acts to improve the world’s conditions through volunteerism and service to others.”