Outstanding Youth Awards will celebrate its third anniversary gala with a ceremony 6-8 p.m. Nov. 11 at Greenville Inn and Suites. The 2017 keynote speaker will be Glenis Redmond, Peace Center poet-in-residence.

The nonprofit organization seeks to empower and recognize South Carolina youth for their positive endeavors in academics, extracurricular activities, sports and overall community activities. Upstate students who have been nominated through the OYA website and who meet certain criteria will be recognized at the event. All nominees must have a 3.0 GPA or higher and be in good disciplinary standing. All elementary, middle and high school students in South Carolina are eligible.

Brittney Brackett, executive director of OYA, said, “This year's award recipients are not just outstanding, but they truly set the bar for youth in the community who strive to make a difference.”

The 2017 winners are:

• Scotdaija Jenkins: Overall Outstanding Youth of the Year ($500 scholarship gift recipient)

As a junior at Legacy Charter High, Jenkins is a poet who supports others and was presented an award by Ms. Maya Angelou in Greenville.

• Skye Blackwell: Volunteer of the Year

Blackwell was nominated due to her strong passion and commitment to “thinking globally, acting locally” by teaching the community the importance of recycling, litter prevention and protecting our environment, Brackett said.

• Autumn Mayes: Scholar of the Year

“Our 2017 Scholar of the Year, Miss Autumn Mayes not only maintains her status as an honor student at Blythe Academy, but finds time to volunteer at her church's soup kitchen regularly, as well as tutor her siblings and other students needing assistance,” Brackett said.

• Jada Redmond: Athlete of the Year

“Having gained national accolades as a star 4x100 relay hurdler, our Athlete of the Year Miss Jada Redmond is an A-B student who has also been nominated for a Stellar Award and won the Rhythm of Gospel Award for Youth Artist of the Year,” Brackett said.

• ADE Seth Feliciano: Entrepreneur of the Year

“The talented Mr. ADE Seth Feliciano, our 9-year-old 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year, founded Dragonfly Outreach for boys to bring awareness to becoming a leader, self-appreciation, and being a gentleman,” Brackett said.

• Zach Buddie: Entertainer of the Year

“Fine Arts Center student and Entertainer of the Year, Zach Buddie is not only a highly-trained FAC guitarist, but he also founded the Wade Hampton High School Metal Club — all while maintaining a challenging AP and Honors level courses,” Brackett said.

• Catarina Simone Costa: Innovator of the Year

“Catarina Simone Costa, our Innovator of the Year, established Bee Buzzingly Bright With Books to encourage children to read more, successfully donating more than 2,500 books with help from generous community donors,” Brackett said.

Brackett said the organization exists to provide meaningful encouragement of youth and their endeavors in the community.

The theme of this year's gala will be "Dream, Commit, Excel!"

Tickets to the event are available for $15 and include catering by Grandma's Kitchen.

To purchase tickets or for more information, visit

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