Kendyl Pennington said she was “very surprised” to be chosen as The Augusta Exchange Club’s Youth of the Year.
The Lakeside High School senior was chosen from among the club’s six Youth of the Month winners to receive the top award at Thursday’s banquet, which was held at First Baptist Church of Augusta. She will go on to compete against other Youth of the Year scholars in the district competition.
Students are chosen based on grade point average, extracurricular activities and an essay competition.
“Most of the time (the grades and extracurricular activities) are all well rounded, so the essay really gives us a glimpse into how passionate these kids are about what they do,” said committee member Philip Kent. “It was pretty overwhelming this time. It was strong essay.”
This win was special for Pennington. Her mother, Kathy Pennington, was awarded Youth of the Month when she was in high school.
She based her essay on her work with Relay for Life, a charity that is close to her heart.
“My teacher (Karen Chase) had breast cancer. She inspired me, and my grandfather had cancer, too,” Kendyl said. “She wrote my letter of recommendation for this scholarship. She’s definitely been my inspiration and my role model throughout high school.”
For her senior project, Kendyl organized a beauty pageant and donated all of the proceeds – more than $4,500 – to Relay for Life.
Kendyl plans to attend the University of South Carolina and double major in pre-law and theater.
In addition to maintaining a 4.0 GPA, she is an honor graduate, cheerleader, recipient of the Governor’s Award and is the reigning Miss Lakeside.