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Students, volunteers recognized for contributions to community

Aerial view of Kuhlman stadium with water tower in foreground.

Three Edina High School (EHS) seniors and two school district volunteers -- and their four-legged partners -- were recently honored at the City of Edina’s annual Volunteer Recognition Reception at Braemar Golf Club.

The students received the Mayor’s Commendation Award for their “hard work and dedication to making the Edina community a better place.”

Hailey Chrysler was nominated by Mary Fink, supervisor for the Youth Serving Youth program at EHS. “Hailey showed exemplary responsibility and dedication to Club 350,” Fink said. Club 350 is a group of EHS students who spend time with students at Countryside Elementary School every Monday after the school day has ended. “She never missed a day and took a very active leadership role. I could always count on her to be engaged and dedicated to the kids.”

Aarathi Garimella was nominated by San Asato of the Rotary Club of Edina. She is the president of the Rotary’s Interact Club, a service club for youth ages 12-18. “Under Arti’s leadership, the Interact Club has grown in membership to over 100 students – the largest since the chapter was founded,” Asato’s nomination stated. “She has begun strategic planning for the club so that future leadership has a path to continued growth and success.” In addition, she has led in-school Interact fundraisers and raised visibility for the Rotary’s mission, recruiting students for service project, and Rotary seminars and camps geared toward youth.

Saumya Mangalick was nominated by Mayor Jim Hovland. She serves as a student commissioner on the city’s Human Rights & Relations Commission. She is also a leader at EHS, founding Edina’s chapter of the United Nation Foundation’s Girl Up campaign, focused on empowering girls through service and leadership. She coordinates all the group’s activities and manages more than 500 members. She is also a member of the school’s 212 Leadership Group, and vice president of the EHS Mosaic initiative, which organized the school’s first Unity Walk last year.

The award for Edina Public Schools and Community Education Services Volunteers of the Year went to two people and their canine companions. Heidi Sargeant and Phil, her springer spaniel, and Leigh Strauss and Oscar, her golden retriever, were recognized for their volunteer work at Normandale Elementary School. The two humans and their therapy dogs work with students on their reading – the students read while Phil and Oscar listen. Students are able to read at their own pace while Phil and Oscar patiently listen without interruption. Consequently, the students grow more confident in their literacy skills.

“Normandale is lucky to have two therapy dogs and their owners working with students as they grow their reading skills in a non-threatening environment,” said Chris Holden, principal at Normandale. “Normandale has ‘gone to the dogs’ and the kids, teachers and dogs are happy about it!”

Pictured above: Heidi Sargeant & Phil, Leigh Strauss & Oscar, and Normandale Principal Chris Holden.