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Parker foreign student wins Presidential National Service Award


Between classes, homework, learning a new language, debate, drama and other activities, how does a busy high school senior find the time to clock more than 100 hours of community service in a school year?

Somehow, Parker School senior Anastasiya Polishchuk, a visiting student from Ukraine this school year, did it.

Polishchuk came to Parker through the Center for Cultural Interchange (CCI), “a non-profit international educational exchange organization dedicated to the promotion of cultural understanding, academic development, environmental consciousness and world peace.”

Anastasiya Polishchuk

CCI requires its students to complete at least 30 hours of community service, and students in the program who reach 100 hours receive a National Service Award conferred by the U.S. President.

To achieve her community service goal, Polishchuk said, “Mostly on Saturdays and days off I went to volunteer. Sometimes I just did that several hours after school when I did not have any activities.”

And she dove in to a number of different opportunities.

“I tried not to miss any possibility to volunteer at school. On Global Youth Day my friend Rin and I volunteered at Waimea Outdoor Circle. Yet, most of times I participated in community service in Thelma Parker Library,” she said. “Thelma Parker Library has nice volunteer team and Carol Buck, who leads volunteers, teaches people not only to do their job but some details and interesting facts about library. Because of good and pleasant staff, it was a joy to volunteer in the library.”

Polishchuk’s teachers and those who have worked with her at Parker School are amazed she was able to accomplish 100 hours of service, and cannot say enough positive things about her as a student and person.

Parker headmaster and Polishchuk’s debate coach, Carl Sturges, said, “When a brilliant mind is coupled with such determination, the results are truly awesome. We’ve really appreciated having Anastasiya this year.”

“Ana’s achievement in earning this presidential award was remarkable, and was aided in large part by the cooperation of her host family, Walter and Deanna Zivalic, and her local coordinator, Yvette Gonzalez,” said Parker admission director and international student coordinator Ann Renick.

Polishchuk’s history and English teacher Ruth Sturges said, “Anastasiya represents the best the foreign exchange program has to offer in bringing dedicated and gifted students into Parker School. She helped to raise the bar of excellence in every class she attended. Anastasiya continually pushed herself to be the very best student she could be and to learn everything she could learn. She would not allow herself to waste a moment of her time. She threw herself into her courses with a whole-heart, and her level of preparedness challenged her classmates to greater academic commitment.”

Polishchuk said of her award, “I am here as exchange student who never used to volunteer before. For me, the best award for my volunteering is ‘thank you’ and smiles of people around. To be honest, of course, it’s pleasant to get an award, which symbolizes strong cooperation between government and people even on international level.”

Once back in Ukraine, Polishchuk will finish high school and take several tests to earn her diploma, then plans to attend university.

Of her year at Parker School, she said, “Parker School is amazing and friendly. Parker students are really nice and welcoming as well as teachers who help to adjust and succeed. Thank you, Parker School, for such a wonderful and unforgettable year. I (also) really want to thank my host family, which welcomed me in Hawaii. To host an exchange student is a great responsibility and risk. I love Zivalic family so much. And a person who managed my year here and helped in difficult situations is Yvette Gonzalez. Thank you so much for your help. Well, and I want to say ‘Thank you’ to everyone who I met here. Waimea has this unbelievable ohana spirit, which is so great. Thank you!”

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