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The good, the great and the downright outstanding

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It cannot be easy being a young person approaching adulthood - in this or any generation. On one hand being told that you are the future while on the other having some “long in the tooth” know-it-all highlight your inexperience has to be utterly frustrating. It is no wonder the words “rebellious” and “youth” are inextricably linked.

We have enough problems with misguided youth, troubled youth, troublesome youth, uneducated youth, criminal youth - often they are one and the same - but, believe it or not, what should cause us as much angst are the relationships we have with the young in our community who actually give a damn and who have the wherewithal to effect change far sooner than projected.

While doing whatever is possible to ensure that the rest catch up to the point of fulfilling potential, those relationships with our “future leaders” - dare we say leaders of today - should be nurtured, protected and not cast to one side for convenience.

There is much to be said for experience, but that means little if you lack the wisdom to give pause and to listen, and the capacity to be beguiled by a relative neophyte. So many of our young people have fantastic minds and voices, and are worthy of being listened to - not simply heard.

Like adults, they should also be subject to criticism - not as a means of being shunted to one side, but rather for the “constructive” that “grown-ups” so demand at the precipice of throwing their toys out of the pram.

Teen Services, for so long synonymous with helping young women and young men to cope with the fallout of unplanned pregnancies through its offshoot Teen Haven, has made it so that Bermuda’s youth are not shunted to one side - for 34 years!

That is how long the quite outstanding Outstanding Teen Awards have been in existence.

With this year being the group’s golden jubilee, it is understandable why the organisers were determined to pull out all the stops so that the 111 honourees could feel truly honoured at the Greater Heritage Worship Centre in Hamilton on Saturday night.

Assisted by scores of volunteers, including judges and interviewers, executive director Michelle Wade, caseworker Zena Francis and Lorna Reid, who splits her time between human resources and accounts, have pulled off a masterstroke.

They put themselves on the right path from the onset on Saturday, with the shrewd signing of the esteemed comedian Nadanja Bailey as emcee. His byplay with Michael Dunkley included, Bailey kept it lively, serious when needed and, most of all, he had the audience in stitches - for laughter is the language of the soul.

But, with a playful nod to the Premier, the stars of the show were our young people.

Recognised for academic and sporting achievement, community and spiritual awareness, appreciation of the arts, and for perseverance against odds that those so young should not have to overcome, they came in all shapes and sizes, and all shades of grey. But what rang through most was that the applause for each and every winner was resounding and heartfelt - until we had the loudest cheer of all for overall winner Megan Zimmerer.

And it is with Miss Zimmerer in mind that we digress to offer a profuse apology because of an unfortunate misstep on Tuesday relating to the publication of a photograph that included her, Amy Palmer and Zoe Lopes - all “the lighter shade of grey” - and no others. Owing to the absence of additional images, and the conversation that we rather not speak of but which needs to be had, many feathers were ruffled - and rightly so.

In the glare amid all the noise were three young women who deserved to be applauded for their achievements, not used as poster fodder for what ails Bermuda’s adult population.

They and their peers have had fantastic years, and that is how this chapter should end - with wholehearted congratulations to them, their parents and the many teachers and mentors who have helped to propel them towards their next phase of enlightenment.

You are all winners ...

The full list of 111 nominees for the 34th Annual Outstanding Teen Awards, held at the Greater Heritage Worship Centre in Hamilton and presented by Teen Services, is as follows (in alphabetical order, with awards in parentheses where applicable):

Akilah Acka

Jon K. Adams

Beatriz Aguiar

Mya Albuoy

Zariah Amory

Alexandra Barnes

Israel Bennett

Samuel Booth (spiritual leadership award)

Salad Bowen

Georgia Bower

Matthew Brady

Serena Burgess

Jaire Butterfield

Simon Cabral

Vanessa Cardoza

Julienn Clarke

Corrie Cross

Johndell Cumberbatch

Brian Darling

Asante Darrell

Ryan Day

Stephan Dill (perseverance award)

Kayla Dowling (community service and spiritual leadership awards)

Zakiyah Durham

Tamiyah Durrant

Tyrece Dyer

Abisha Ebenezer

Anisha Ebenezer

J’Mae Ferguson

Leticia Ferreira

Nicholas Fletcher

Jalen Franklin

Jahkari Furbert

Jashunte Furbert-Tuzo

Lauren Genevieve (leadership and performing arts awards)

Taiae Gibbons

Lillian Griffiths

Siyaunne Hall

Sabriyya Harvey

Shannon Hassell

Robin Horsfield (vocational technical arts award)

Sage Jackson

Kaitlyn Jefferey

Kalia Johnson

Akim Johnston

Nicole Kansakar

Aliana King

Dakota Lamb

Kimberley Lima

Savannah Loder

Zoe Lopes (visual arts award)

Jean-Pierre Lucas

Elizabeth Madeiros (sports award)

Hannah Mallon

Jomeko Mallory (most progress award)

Christopher Malpas (sports award)

Hannah Marshall (special recognition award)

Alfred Maybury

Ava Mayer

Brianna Mendes

Matthew Meszoly

Shanyce Morris

Francis Mussenden

Zachary Myers (academic achievement and performing arts awards)

Emma O’Donnell

Christian Oatley

Zoe Oleksak

Amy Palmer (vocational technical arts award)

Mackenzie Pearman

Kelly Pedro

Ajai Peets

Erin Philip

Sacara Phillips

Camerin Pickering

Micah Pond

Kiara Ray

Jahdeja Regis

Sahtae Riley

Nicholas Roach (visual arts award)

Viaire Robinson

Charlotte Samuels

Casey Schuler

Kaisha Simons

Pier Simons

Aide Smith

Chinzea Smith

Jaavaid Smith

W. Aaron Spencer II

Destiny Stamp

Selaah Stephenson

Kate Stewart

Rysheen Suragh

Megan Sutcliffe (academic achievement award)

Kheary Swan

Jessie Thomas

Jessica Thompson

Isaiah Todd

Ashleigh Tomkins

Tejah Trott

Leslie Tucker

Eduardo Vieira Jr

Vance Wall-Brown

Chiyardo Wedderburn

Brian Wedlich

Anthony Whaley (community service award)

Conor White

Chefanices Williams (perseverance award)

India Wilson

Theo Wolffe (leadership award)

Shequilla Young (most progress award)

Megan Zimmerer (outstanding overall award)

Congratulations to you all!

Tomorrow's leaders today: Michael Dunkley is proud as punch to share time with a collection of the island's most accomplished young people after the Outstanding Teen Awards on Saturday. Joining the Premier in the front row, from left, are Stephan Dill, Shequilla Young, Elizabeth Madeiros, Hannah Marshall and Zoe Lopes. Middle row: Chefanices Williams, Theo Wolffe, Nicholas Roach, Zachary Myers and Megan Zimmerer. Back row: Megan Sutcliffe, Samuel Booth, Robin Horsfield, Amy Palmer and Kayla Dowling. Missing are Lauren Genevieve, Anthony Whaley, Christopher Malpas and Jomeko Mallory (Photograph by Anthony Wade)
Megan Zimmerer: outstanding overall award (Photograph by Anthony Wade)
Kayla Dowling: spiritual leadership and community service awards (Photograph by Anthony Wade)
Samuel Booth: spiritual leadership award (Photograph by Anthony Wade)
Elizabeth Madeiros: sports award (Photograph by Anthony Wade)
Christopher Malpas: sports award (Photograph supplied)
Lauren Genevieve: leadership and performing arts awards (Photograph supplied)
Theo Wolffe: leadership award (Photograph by Anthony Wade)
Shequilla Young: most progress award (Photograph by Anthony Wade)
Jomeko Mallory: most progress award (Photograph supplied)
Anthony Whaley: community service award (Photograph by Anthony Wade)
Chefanices Williams: perseverance award (Photograph by Anthony Wade)
Stephan Dill: perseverance award (Photograph by Anthony Wade)
Megan Sutcliffe: academic achievement award (Photograph by Anthony Wade)
Zachary Myers: academic achievement award (Photograph by Anthony Wade)
Zoe Lopes: visual arts award (Photograph by Anthony Wade)
Nicholas Roach: visual arts award (Photograph by Anthony Wade)
Amy Palmer: vocational technical arts award (Photograph by Anthony Wade)
Robin Horsfield: vocational technical arts award (Photograph by Anthony Wade)
Hannah Marshall: special recognition award (Photograph by Anthony Wade)
Curtain closer: Michael Dunkley, the Premier, and emcee Nadanja Bailey worked well as an impromptu double act (Photograph by Anthony Wade)