Recent Tallassee High School graduate Kayla Jolly was presented with a Prudential Spirit of the Community Award distinguished finalist medallion for her outstanding volunteer work.
Jolly helps provide soldiers and their families with logistical and emotional support through the Alabama National Guard Youth Program and the Alabama National Guard Advisory Board.
Jolly was selected by the organization’s state-level judges as one of the top Alabama runners-up in this year's program.
Jolly was only 5 years old when her father underwent military deployment.
“I was really young and really didn't know what deployment was,” Jolly said. “I thought it was just my dad going to fight the bad guys but there’s so much more.”
Tallassee High School principal Matt Coker said students such as Jolly set excellent examples of Tallassee pride.
"It's about service and giving to others," Coker said. “To have Kayla earn this because she has helped other students and other people her age who are dealing with their parents being deployed, or other issues that military families go through, says what type of person Kayla is. She is serving others and that's what we want from our students and we are very proud of her."
Jolly also qualified for the President's Volunteer Service Award on behalf of President Donald Trump.
In March, Alabama House Rep. Mike Holmes (R-Wetumpka) visited coach John Mask's classroom to honor Jolly with the Prudential Spirit of Community Award.
"Ms. Jolly earned this distinction by giving generously of her time and energy, providing logistical and emotional support through the Alabama National Guard Youth Program," Holmes said. "She uses her experiences from her father's deployment to help others."
Created in 1995 by Prudential and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the program honors middle and high school students for outstanding service to others at the local, state and national levels.
The program has recognized more than 125,000 young people who have made a difference and inspired countless others to consider how they might contribute to their communities.