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Marissa Crouse a humble and active Youth Of The Year

She didn’t know they were talking about her

Sometimes, it’s not doing a big splashy thing that wins applause, it’s consistently doing the good things.

Just ask Burns Lake Rotary’s newly anointed Youth Of The Year. Marissa Crouse, 17, can’t think of a single thing she ever did that stands out, but when she lists all the things she keeps busy with it becomes quickly clear why rotarians drew a circle around her name.

A big part of it was character references. Several teachers named her to the judges as they were looking for a quality candidate. The teachers used descriptors like pays attention, contributes to class conversation and activities in a positive way, keeps up with the assigned work, etc.

“When they were naming off all the things, I had like five other people in my head,” Crouse said. “When they said my name, the room went silent and I said ‘whuuut?’ I was not recognizing myself when they were speaking. It was pretty much a shock.”

Her other attributes include a love of history, an artistic side with painting and writing and and knitting, she’s a movie buff, especially horrors, and a deep love of volleyball.

“If someone asks me to play any sport, I’ll be in, but my first love is volleyball,” she said.

But it takes more than being a good student and active athlete with a pleasant personality to win an award like Youth Of The Year. While she buried it in her own self-assessment until late in the conversation, it is her volunteering that sets her apart from most young people. Or any people.

“I was in cadets. We did a lot of sandbagging. And I would bake a lot and just give it out. I would see if anyone needed help and I would help them,” she said, suddenly shy.

As the list of attributes mounted, so did the appreciation of the rotary judges.

“We don’t usually share the wording of the nominations with the whole club as a part of our process, but I wanted to share this one. It truly epitomizes the essence of what we are looking for in a youth citizen,” said rotary member Leone McHugh, but made the exception for this testimonial on Crouse’s behalf.

“Marissa’s an upstanding human being. The world would be a great place with her at its helm. She’s creative, a passionate writer, she’s incredibly altruistic and empathetic to others. She cares. She’s ever vigilante for ways to help and I feel she gets little praise for it because so much of what she does flies under the radar. It’s often the everyday things that make someone else’s life better living. She always betters the life of others and does so selflessly.”

Crouse credits her mother MaryLynn and father Dennis for developing her world views organically.

“They taught me young about focusing on what was important. And they told me I could change my mind on interests I would try. They guided me as I was looking for the right direction, and I think that is really helpful and really nice,” she said. She doesn’t even mind being an attentive big sister to eight-year-old Lane, which many parents would agree is worth an award all by itself.

Crouse has already been accepted to UNBC where she intends to get her undergraduate degree in History then transition that into a career as a high school teacher.

Crouse said the secret to success in life is “just show up,” especially when you are second-guessing attending an event or a chance to interact with the public. There are always reasons to say no and stay behind, but going will introduce you to the “chance to have the time of your life.”

“We have some pretty cool kids in our midst,” said McHugh. “I love that we get to connect with them through our work in the community.”