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The following local high school students were awarded the 2011 Saint Michael's College Book Award for Academic Achievement with a Social Conscience: Halle Cairns, a student at Sacred Heart Academy, and Brendan Smalec, a student at Cheshire High School.
The award recognizes students who demonstrate a commitment to leadership in volunteer service and academic achievement. Saint Michael's, located in Burlington, Vermont, one of America's top 10 college towns, was founded on the belief that serving others is part of its Catholic tradition, and through the award seeks to honor those who demonstrate the true spirit of volunteerism.
Award recipients, named at schools throughout the country, are high school juniors who are inductees of the National Honor Society or an equivalent school-sponsored honors organization. They must demonstrate a commitment to service activities in high school or community organizations, taking leadership roles in these activities.
Winners were presented the book First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung, a 1993 Saint Michael's College graduate who has become a widely acclaimed author. In First They Killed My Father, Ung gives a powerful autobiographical account, from a child's perspective, of surviving captivity during the genocidal Pol Pot regime in Cambodia. She reveals an indomitable spirit in the face of profound suffering, including the loss of both her parents and two of her siblings. Ung has written a riveting memoir about a family's survival, and in turn, about the development of Ung's on-going crusade for a landmine free world.