A’Vanti certainly fits the description in the letter. While many students only complete enough volunteer hours to fulfill their community service requirements, A’Vanti has worked for several organizations, including well over 100 hours each at her two favorite, Pinal County Animal Care and Control, where she is the first teen to be allowed to volunteer; and at AZ Blankets for Kids. “I was just at a Quilting Bee with my mother and sister on February 25th in Apache Junction,” states A’Vanti. “I quilt and crochet blankets that are then donated to children who have gone through unfortunate situations. It is the mission of AZ Blankets for Kids to provide (free of charge) security blankets, quilts, receiving blankets, tied comforters, and afghans to seriously ill or traumatized children. Recipients are children facing the most difficult times in their young lives and include those who are suffering the effects of: serious illness, fire or major auto accident, sexual or physical abuse, mental or physical disabilities, or homelessness. The blankets give them a feeling of something that was specially made for them when many of them have lost everything and their lives have changed so drastically. It feels great to give of yourself, knowing that it is going to have a profound effect on someone else’s life. Granted, you may never see this effect, but it still feels good to know that you are blessed to be able to help someone who is in need.
“Volunteering teaches respect for self and others, compassion, life experiences, and great responsibility. My parents always stress about the importance of being respectful and have instilled great morals and principles in us, their children. Volunteering is an opportunity to open your horizons to other possibilities. That’s why I volunteer.”
Valencia Coppell, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Coordinator for Florence High School, laughs as she talks about presenting A’Vanti with the award. “We didn’t tell her why she was being called to the principal’s office. She’s an excellent student and very quiet, but she was convinced that she was in trouble.”
A’Vanti picks up the story, “I was totally shocked by this experience. In fact, I was scared when I walked into the school conference room and my parents, Anthony and Ze'Etta, and my younger sister Mia, were there with Principal Knutson, my IB Coordinator Mrs. Coppell, and the Vice Principal, Mrs. Matzen. They were all looking at me when I walked in the room; I had no idea what to expect. Principal Knutson starting reading the letter to us and, to be honest, it felt kind of surreal. I had to take a moment to absorb what was actually happening. I must admit, that it’s a great feeling being recognized by the President of the United States. I was being recognized for doing something that I enjoy. I am honored and humbled by the entire experience.”
(pictured to the right: A’Vanti Glenn (far right) listens with her mother, Ze’Etta (middle) and sister, Mia as Principal Chris Knutsen reads the letter from President Obama.)
As an IB student, A’Vanti carries a heavy academic load in addition to her volunteer efforts, but she still finds time to pursue her two great loves, music and the Mandarin Chinese language. “I have been learning Mandarin Chinese since the 7th grade. I also play the bassoon, flute, and the piano, and I compose music. I would love to have my music playing in the background of a movie scene, or a play, or even a video game.”
Glenn will be recognized at an upcoming school assembly, where she will be awarded the framed original documents in front of the entire FHS student body. The framing service was generously donated by the family of another IB Diploma Programme student.