For Kayla Wyatt, making a difference by helping others and giving back to her community means the world to her. In fact, the recent Newton High School Class of 2020 graduate has amassed more than 300 hours of community service, and she does not plan to stop any time soon.
“I am most happy when helping others,” Wyatt said. “I have learned that when you do for others, blessings are sure to come your way.”
Throughout her high school career, Wyatt dedicated a vast majority of her time volunteering to mentor young students and even assisted at a local homeless shelter, where she helped prepare and provide food for those in need.
Wyatt’s work ethic and good deeds did not go unnoticed. She was nominated for and recently awarded the Certificate of Excellence by the judges in The 2020 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.
According to the award guidelines, this means her volunteer activities were judged to be among the top 10% of all those considered in the state this year. In addition to the Certificate of Excellence, the judges notified Wyatt that her numerous hours of community service qualified her for the President’s Volunteer Service Award.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program is the United States’ largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service. Created in 1995 by Prudential and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the program honors middle level and high school students for outstanding service to others at the local, state and national level.
“When I was informed of the great news, I could not help but to smile,” Wyatt said. “I quickly rushed to tell my family. I was aware of how much publicity my community service had gotten, but I did not expect this. I was greatly honored and felt as if all my activities made a huge impact on others and myself.
“I have to thank all my supporters because without them all of this would not have happened," she added. "I am so thankful to be surrounded and loved by such talented, devoted, encouraging and creative people.”
The fact that Wyatt has performed more than 300 hours of community service is truly impressive when considering her course load and the numerous extra-curricular activities she participated in during school. Enrolled in the Academy of Liberal Arts at Newton High School (ALANHS), Wyatt took numerous Advanced Placement courses, including human geography, world history, English language and composition, U.S. history, macroeconomics, microeconomics, English literature and composition, and statistics.
In addition to her coursework, Wyatt served as the captain of the Aries of Elegance, vice-president of the Beta Club, chorographer of the Drama Club and treasurer and fundraiser of First Ladies. She also served as a school RAMbassador and media center student aide. Wyatt also represented her fellow NCSS students as a member of Newton County School Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey’s Student Advisory Council — a role she held from seventh grade throughout her high school tenure.
While maintaining outstanding grades, Wyatt also volunteered her time outside of school to help younger students and members of the community. Her “Dance for a Purpose” started as an independent study project assignment for ALANHS but grew into a program that allowed young girls a safe haven to dance and learn about giving back to the community. Wyatt invited the girls to participate in community events such as back-to-school festivals and other charity events.
As a member of Newton High School’s Beta Club, Wyatt volunteered to read to children enrolled in the after-school program at Fairview Elementary School.
“After we were done reading to them we talked with them about the expectations of growing up,” Wyatt said. “They all had different dreams and goals and we simply directed them in ways to help them achieve them.”
She noted that Beta Club members also volunteered their time visiting senior citizen residents of the Benton House and participated in a variety of activities such as nail painting, dancing, drawing and coloring, games and just talking with the residents.
“This gave us a chance to interact with seniors, learn about their intriguing life stories, and even learn a few life lessons ourselves," Wyatt said.
Along the way, Wyatt even found time to write and produce an anti-bullying song, “Stand Tall,” that she performed multiple years at the Mall of Stonecrest during their anti-bullying events. When she was invited to West Newton Elementary School to speak to students enrolled in the girls’ Leading Ladies of West Newton club, Wyatt said she was instantly surrounded by students who wanted her autograph and picture.
“The girls questioned me about high school and my social life,” said Wyatt. “I was glad to advise them on certain things. I truly felt like a big sister teaching my younger sisters.”
This put a smile on Wyatt’s face, as she truly loves helping young children. She plans to make it her career. Headed to Georgia State University in the fall, she will major in nursing as she wants to become a pediatric nurse.
She doesn’t plan on ceasing or cutting back on her volunteerism either.
“Volunteering makes me feel accomplished,” she said. “My goal is to spread good deeds to others so they can do the same to others one day. It makes me feel good inside to know that I have inspired so many individuals, especially young ones. Being viewed as someone’s role model is the best experience I have come across and I will continue to keep doing just that.”
“Kayla is an amazing young lady,” Dr. Shannon Buff, principal of Newton High School, said. “She was an outstanding student who earned excellent grades and participated in numerous school activities. She was definitely an outstanding representative of Newton High School, but it won’t be her grades or her club activities that she will be remembered for.
"Kayla has a passion to help others that is truly impressive," Buff continued. "Despite all she had on her plate in terms of academics and extra-curricular activities, she always made time to help others. Whether it was mentoring young students, serving the elderly, or working for the betterment of our community—she was always ready and willing to serve. Kayla is the type of student every teacher and principal dreams of having in their school. I have no doubt she will do great things after high school and I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes in her future endeavors!”