SMS student wins community service award

MONTPELIER - Stratton Mountain School junior Michelle Drei mann, Stratton Mountain, earned the Prudential Spirit of Community Award for her commitment to volunteerism. Michelle was one of two recipients of the Vermont top youth volunteers of 2014 award. This is a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.

As one of the two State Honorees, Michelle will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and a trip in May to Washington, D.C., where she will join the top two honorees from each of the other states. During the trip, 10 students will be named America's top youth volunteers of 2014.

Over the past seven years, with the help of the "Junior Board" Michelle co-founded and is now the co-president of, she has raised more than $150,000 over the past seven years for a non-profit organization that provides educational scholarships and medical care to families of employees of the Hualalai Resort in Hawaii, where she spends two months of each year.

"My sister and I created the Junior Board, which is now a committee of the Adult Board of the Ohana Foundation, to show the youth of the Hualalai community that fundraising for a good cause can be fun, and also to assure that our efforts will be continued through later generations," Michelle said. She also promotes recycling at the resort and brought a curbside recycling service to residents.

"Seeing the same employees every year, they became part of my family, or 'ohana' as they say in Hawaiian," Michelle said. "At the age of 10, I realized that it was time to start giving back to the employees by making a donation to the Ohana Foundation."

At Stratton Mountain School, Dreimann has organized many fundraisers, including a bake sale for the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation, local clean-up efforts after Hurricane Irene, and fundraising for the KURAproject.

Dreimann has also participated in junior firefighter training at the Stratton Mountain Fire Station and helped to clean the trucks, and she is one of two secretaries of the Student Council, as well as a class representative.

Dreimann said her parents instilled in her the desire for volunteering at a young age.

"My parents have motivated and inspired me to get involved with volunteering," she said. "Since I was little, they have always told me that it is better to give than receive."

She remembers the first time she got involved with the Ohana Foundation, which started her lifelong love of giving back.

"When I was 10 years old, my sister and I planned a golf cart wash for the Ohana Foundation. This was our first project for the foundation, and the result was bigger than we could have ever expected. In two days, we raised over $20,000. Washing golf carts was a fun way to get all the kids in the resort to help the foundation and it definitely showed me that motivation can go a long way. I first got involved with the Ohana Foundation to give back to the employees of the resort, but after seeing all that we accomplished by washing golf carts, fundraising meant so much more. After the golf cart wash, I was invited to attend and speak at the Higher Education ceremony, in which the employees' kids that obtained a GPA of 3.5 or better were given scholarship money for college. Once I saw how much the scholarships meant to all the high school students, helping the Ohana Foundation meant so much more to me," she said.

Alex Lehmann, SMS Dean of Academics said, "She is one of the most committed and thoughtful students with whom I have worked. I have never seen a student with Michelle's history of community service, and her empathy and caring are evident every day."

Morgan Taylor, SMS Dean of Residential Life and the Community Service Coordinator, helps organize the students to fulfill their requisite five hours of community service each year.

"Michelle seeks out community service opportunities even though she has an over-abundance of service hours," Taylor said. "Michelle will engage in any activity in which she is helping others. She even created her own fundraiser last year at SMS to help raise money for breast cancer. She volunteers as a Junior Firefighter with our local volunteer fire station because she is eager to get involved in the community. In her own school community, Michelle is a Student Council member and has a true desire to serve her classmates and make her school the best it can be. She is enthusiastic, positive and driven to make things happen."

Stratton Mountain School is a ski and snowboard academy located at the base of Stratton Mountain. SMS serves students in grades 7-12. The SMS community of students, faculty, coaches and staff share the pursuit of academic and athletic excellence.


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