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NEWS | April 20, 2011

Local teen declared Regional Youth of the Year

By Airman 1st Class Ian Hoachlander Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Kai Holnes was recognized as the 2011 Boys and Girls Club South Carolina Youth of the Year at a competition held at the Embassy Suites in Columbia, S.C., April 15.

Ms. Holnes is the daughter of Master Sgt. Pablo Holnes from the 437th Aviation Maintenance Support Squadron and his wife Maritza.

Being named Youth of the Year is the highest honor a young man or woman can earn in the Boys and Girls Club Association. Joint Base Charleston's Youth Center is affiliated with the Boys and Girls Club Association and the Youth of the Year Program recognizes young individuals for their contributions to their families, youth programs, schools and communities.

"I was in total shock," explained Ms. Holnes. "Honestly, I didn't believe I was going to win because I am a sophomore and most of the nominees were juniors and seniors."

Before Ms. Holnes could enter the regional competition she had to submit a package that included several essays she had written. The package was reviewed by a panel of judges who determined she should move on to the next level where she competed against 10 other nominees and was ultimately named the winner.

As the winner of the South Carolina Youth of the Year Competition, Ms. Holnes received a $2,000 scholarship and earned the opportunity to go to the national competition in Atlanta, Ga., in June.

"The Youth of the Year program emphasizes development of the whole person," explained Karen Hudson, teen coordinator at Joint Base Charleston's Youth Programs. "Kai has very good potential and we're going to help her every step of the way. We're all very excited for her."

Ms. Holnes currently attends Fort Dorchester High School and maintains a 4.0 grade point average. Along with her hard work and dedication in school, she also volunteers her time in a variety of programs within the Youth Center including the Keystone Club, the Youth Employment Skills Program, the President's Volunteer Service Program and the Air Force Teen Council. Ms. Holnes also participates in Model United Nations, FIRST Robotics, Winter Guard and the Fort Dorchester High School marching band.

Ms. Holnes is preparing herself for the next level of competition, but is very grateful for all the support she has received at Joint Base Charleston.

"I'm extremely grateful that I have the opportunity to represent Charleston," said Ms. Holnes. "It's a little overwhelming to know that I represent the entire Charleston area. I would like to thank Joint Base Charleston for having such a wonderful school-age and teen program where there are opportunities for kids to participate in activities like the Youth of the Year competition."