I am a junior at Cazenovia High School and have lived in Cazenovia all my life. I am the youngest of four, and my parents are Bob and Kathy Okoniewski. I row crew in the fall for the Cazenovia Rowing Club, I race in the winter for the Labrador Mountain Ski Team and play on the tennis team in the spring.
I’m a good student and am working hard on my grades and extra activities because I plan to apply to the United States Naval Academy next year. Receiving an appointment to the USNA is incredibly difficult, and I’m doing my best to get prepared.
This past spring, the counseling department at Cazenovia High School told me about the Rotary Youth Leadership Award. I applied for this award, and was selected to participate in the RYLA Summer Seminar held at Cazenovia College in July.
At this seminar, 40 other students from surrounding rotary clubs participated in numerous leadership activities and worked on developing better leadership skills. There were many interesting and inspirational speakers.
At the end of the seminar, we were assigned the task of creating a service project. This project had some guidelines which included benefiting others.
I chose to benefit the Cazenovia community by resurfacing the basketball court at Rotary Park on Burton Street. Although I’m not a basketball player, I had played there a few times with my friends and knew that it was in need of a new surface.
My families’ business, Okie Court Systems Inc., is a recreational court building and resurfacing company. I work for my dad in the summer and asked him if we could donate a new surface to our community as part of my service project. We completed the court in early September.
To put my leadership skills to the test, I decided to plan an event that could bring the community together. I felt there could be an opportunity to connect our local youth with our local service leaders. I decided to create “Cazenovia Community Connects.”