Anthem teen serves her community by sharing veterans’ stories

Selfless and Driven 

Anthem teen serves her community by sharing veterans’ stories.

By Emma Suttell

Photo by Nora James Photography

Ellie Clark, 17, is not an average high school student. Besides excelling in band and academics, she has an outstanding history of serving the Anthem Community. Her goals and accomplishments have revolved around serving others in every aspect possible.

A senior at Boulder Creek High School, Ellie is one of the original residents of Anthem, her mother being one of the first 66 homeowners in the community. At age four, Ellie won a contest declaring her Anthem’s first “native.”

“Is so welcoming and involved. It is always nice to see the family activities that happen here locally,” says Ellie.

She’s done great service to the community that doesn’t go unnoticed at Boulder Creek High School. Ellie is part of Veterans Heritage Project, a 501c3 organization that is dedicated to recording, telling, and writing the stories of United States veterans. As the president of the North Valley Regional Library/Boulder Creek High School Chapter of VHP, Ellie sets an example for others in the club. In only two years (the club was founded at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year), Ellie has interviewed nine veterans.

Throughout the school year, Ellie explains that students and advisors meet with a veteran to interview him or her, then take several weeks or months to perfect the written version of the story. The finalized story is published in an annual edition of Since You Asked, a book filled with veterans’ stories that is sent to the Library of Congress later in the year.

Ellie emphasizes that the highlight of working with VHP is having the opportunity to honor veterans by sharing their stories. She says it brings her great joy and credits her newfound knowledge and respect for our nation’s history to the organization.

“Working with VHP gives me the opportunity to learn about history from those that served this country,” says Ellie, “I have so much respect for their commitment and dedication to citizens of the United States. In turn, I can share their amazing stories with everyone for the future.”

When considering one of the highlights of her service with VHP, Ellie refers to when she was chosen out of hundreds of students to represent the organization at the 2017 Book Signing Ceremony and Reception, an annual April tradition to celebrate the accomplishments of students and honor all of the veterans. Ellie had the privilege to serve as one of the MCs of the event, taking on the responsibility of speaking in front of a crowd containing hundreds of veterans and their families, all gathered at ASU’s West Campus.

Other events that Ellie volunteered in on behalf of VHP include marching in the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade in both 2016 and 2017. She also volunteered at Sanderson Ford’s Driven to Give Fundraiser, an event in November that involved VHP supporters test-driving cars to raise money for the organization.

As a club officer since the organization’s foundation, Ellie has led the group of about 14 BCHS students to interview and publish the stories of 24 veterans in 2017. “The only real challenge I faced as president was making sure everyone was staying focused on our task at hand, making sure I delegated the workload when necessary,” she says. “The most rewarding thing will be seeing all of our club members’ stories in the book.”

Focused on a future of serving others, including continuing to contribute to VHP, Ellie has a clear path ahead. When asked about her plans for the future, Ellie once again mentions how she plans to help others, not only as a hobby, but as a career.

“In the fall, I will be attending the University of Arizona. I aspire to go into the medical field and make a difference in people’s lives,” she says.

 

 

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