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Youth and Senior awards go to volunteers at Niceville area schools.

Two out of three ain’t bad – and Niceville-area schools had two volunteers from their ranks named volunteers of the year in the youth and senior category. 

Jacob Clifton, a Freshman at Niceville High School and Pat Smales, a volunteer at Plew Elementary, received their honors for the previous school year at a School Board Meeting August 28th. 

The Okaloosa County School Board also recognized Patricia Harris, an active duty airman and mother, for her contributions at Wright Elementary in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. 

Pat Smales

The school board first recognized Pat Smales, a longtime volunteer in the media center (that means library) at Plew Elementary for her service. “She even takes her volunteer work home – we call that homework in the education world,” the citation, read by Deputy Superintendent Steve Horton said. 

Pat first started serving in the library after a career in the Air Force. Her children were at Plew at the time. She processes, catalogs, researches, shelves and delivers books for the school. She’s also made many trips around the county to get books to their final destinations. The district estimates her work has saved them thousands of dollars every year since she began to help out at the school. 

RELATED: Plew’s Crist Finalist for Florida Support Staff of the Year

Pat Smales smiles as she receives her recognition as Senior Volunteer of the Year.

Jacob Clifton

Jacob Clifton, a Freshman at Niceville High School, earned the volunteer of the year – youth for his efforts in eighth grade at the STEMM School in Valparaiso last year.

A citation read at the ceremony said Clifton was “an all-american kid who is gifted, kind, inspiring and empathetic.” His character qualities drove him to volunteer as a member of the Hope Squad.

The citation also described him as a natural mentor to younger students at the STEMM Academy.

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