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Oxford High School Student Tops in Country for Volunteerism

Luke Kelly talks about the work that led to him winning a national award for volunteer service.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards honors students nationwide each year for their acts of volunteerism. Luke Kelly, an Oxford High School junior, is one of the top young volunteers in the country.

He earned the honor thanks to his hard work on the Bailey’s Woods Trail. Bailey’s Woods Trail connects the University Museum at the University of Mississippi to Rowan Oak, William Faulkner’s residence in Oxford.

“The trail was kind of old and like hadn’t been worked on in a while so we just kind of cleaned it up a little bit,” Kelly said, “and then we went through and put like signs for directions and then we put like these cards on each end for like a kids’ activity, so as you walk through you find things like a scavenger hunt.”

Teachers like Dr. Barbara Lowe say that this recognition is not surprising because Kelly is very involved in the community and in school.

“He’s a hands-on kind of guy, I mean, he’s a Scout, and so he’s done a lot of work in community service over the years, and I think that making Bailey’s Woods more accessible to a lot of different people is a fantastic way to give back to the community,” Lowe said.

Winners receive $1,000 and an engraved medallion along with a trip to Washington, D.C. Kelly says he looks forward to meeting other recipients to learn about their service projects.

“Mississippi is kind of an underrepresented state for this kind of thing so it’s going to be interesting to see like what all the other kids like from California because they actually have like a lot more representatives going than Mississippi because obviously their population is a lot bigger,” Kelly said.

Luke’s efforts in cleaning up the trail have made it more accessible and appealing to the Oxford community. 

Story contributed by Meek School of Journalism students Jules Marcantonio and Kyra Henderson.

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