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LIHUE — For several years, Kaytlen Akau, of Lihue, has instructed young girls in the art of dance.

Meanwhile, Alexandra Skrocki, of Honolulu, has hosted a party to welcome new students from military families to Hawaii.

Although these young women say they never expected any reward for their contributions, their faces lit up as their dedication and hard work earned them the Prudential Spirit of Community Award.

“Alexandra and Kaytlen are excellent examples of the kind of community-minded individuals we strive to produce within our schools,” Hawaii Department of Education Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said. “We congratulate them on their deserving honor and appreciate their contributions to enhancing the lives of others.”

Akau, an eighth-grader at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, said it makes her feel “very good” to teach the girls “because they get to learn more about dance.”

Her mother, Teresa Caires, said she is also proud of her daughter’s accomplishments.

“I’m thrilled,” said Caires, who woke her daughter with the news she had won the award.

Last summer, Akau supervised children at Kauai’s state parks as a junior leader through a county parks and recreation program. Akau has also participated in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life with her family and assisted in raising money for the Alzheimers Association.

Debra Badua, principal of Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, had high praise for Akau.

“We’re super proud of Kaytlen, and I think that her platform that ‘service is a way of life’ is outstanding,”�� Badua said. “I think that community service should be an integral part of everyone’s life.”

Skrocki, a student at Admiral Arthur W. Radford High School on Oahu, welcomes new students from military families to her house for her annual “Back to School Teen Party” as a way of easing their fears and anxieties.

Skrocki, a military child, understands the difficulty of being new. She has provided meals for airmen, taught students of deployed parents and baked holiday cookies for active military men and women.

“I didn’t do it because I wanted to be noticed,” she said. “I do it because I love it, and this is what makes your life different.”

In light of Akau receiving the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, her older sister, Britnee Akau, will host a book drive. The books will be donated to a community reading project for children in Washington, D.C. Donations will be accepted until March 31 at the Agency of Elderly Affairs, the Aloha Dance Studio and Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School.

For receiving the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, Skrocki and Akau were each awarded $1,000, engraved silver medallions and a paid trip to Washington, D.C., where they will attend events with two nominees from each state.

During the students’ four-day stay in the District of Columbia, 10 will be chosen as America’s top youth volunteers of 2015.

“I’m excited for her because it’s an educational opportunity and something she gets to experience,” Caires said.

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Averie Soto, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or asoto@thegardenisland.com.

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