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BBYO Teen Recognized by President Obama for Community Service

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A Fair Lawn High School student was honored by the Commander in Chief for her dedication to community service.

Rachel Gimuriman, 17, a junior at Fair Lawn High School, was recently named a Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program honoree. The program is the United States' largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service. The program was created in 1995 by Prudential in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) to honor middle level and high school students for outstanding service to others at the local, state and national level. As part of the honor she also earned the President's Volunteer Service Award and received a certificate and a letter signed by President Barack Obama.

Gimuriman was honored for her work as a member of the Pascack Valley chapter of The B'nai B'rith Youth Organization (BBYO) Jewish youth group for girls and boys in grades eight through 12.

She spearheaded the group's Pink and White Ball that took place on Oct. 20 in Washington Township. Gimuriman was involved in the long hours planning the dance that raised money for the Play For Pink organization that promotes breast cancer awareness and research.

According to Gimuriman, the ball raised $6,400 the year before and she wanted to beat that with a goal of $8,000 set. That goal was exceeded as the dance raised $8,700 for the cause and saw 250 teens from New Jersey and New York attend the event.

For Gimuriman, who is hoping to study business in college, the honor was something she was not expecting.

"I was really happy (to win the award), it was unexpected," she said. "It was nice to be recognized, it was really a team effort (to produce the Pink and White Ball)."

Gimuriman was nominated by teacher Peter Zisa. She is one of approximately 100 students a year taking his community service course at the high school. According to Zisa, the course is for any student interested in acquiring community service hours.

"We talk about doing community service and how it can enhance their lives," said Zisa. "It can open them up to potential careers."

While Fair Lawn High School does not require community service hours to graduate like some local schools, Zisa said many top tier colleges look favorably on volunteering for their applicants.

"We teach the importance of giving back to others," he added.

Zisa said this was the first time in the eight years he has been nominating students for the Prudential Award that the school has had a student recognized with this honor.

"Rachel is the type of student who is highly motivated and very dedicated," he added. "She is a true leader."

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