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State Honoree

Rachael Ladd


Rachael Ladd, 17, of White River Junction, Vt., a senior at Hartford High School, organized a collection effort throughout her school district that raised more than $1,600 to purchase school supplies for poor Ethiopian children. Rachael then traveled to Ethiopia at her own expense to distribute the materials and teach English. “My two youngest sisters were adopted from Ethiopia,” Rachael said, “and since their adoption, I have felt a significant responsibility to help those children in Ethiopia who have no hope or future.” After presenting her “Pennies for Pencils” plan to local school officials, Rachael enlisted help from student councils, churches, businesses and teachers throughout her community. She distributed a collection jar to each school, wrote and distributed an informational brochure, then produced a video and wrote classroom curriculum to teach children about Ethiopia. Presentations at teachers’ meetings, school assemblies, and in classrooms helped generate enthusiasm for the project. Six schools in Ethiopia plus several orphanages received pens, pencils, paper and other school supplies, thanks to Rachael’s effort. During her visit, Rachael also taught English classes to children. “For me, Africa gave my life significance,” she said. “Service gave me a glimpse of the amazing good I could do in the world. That is an addicting feeling.”