Volunteers Emerson Boukari

GAINESVILLE – Three volunteers who collectively contribute more than 60 hours every week to local schools have been named Alachua County’s School Volunteers of the Year for 2016.

Cary Emerson, Adam Boukari and Sally Holly will represent the district in the statewide Outstanding School Volunteer Awards program, which honors youth, adult and senior volunteers who have shown outstanding dedication and commitment to quality education in Florida.

“Our district would not enjoy its current success were it not for the contributions of volunteers like Cary, Adam and Sally,” said Superintendent Dr. Owen Roberts. “They provide time and talents that make a huge difference in the lives of our students.”

Santa Fe High School Principal Elizabeth LeClear echoed Roberts' comments. “Cary Emerson is an extraordinary young woman,” she said. “She is such a hard worker and is always positive and pleasant. She is a great representative of Santa Fe High School.”

Emerson is a senior at Santa Fe. She’s been volunteering since she arrived at the school, and has contributed more than 600 hours in just the last 18 months. She’s organized numerous school events, including the Raider Rally and the annual Pie Auction to benefit early childhood programs. She’s involved with several clubs, including service clubs such as Interact, the youth version of the Rotary Club. She’s also serving on Santa Fe’s School Advisory Council.

Cary says she loves helping others and that serving at Santa Fe is a natural fit.

“My parents and grandparents are alumni, so I love being part of that tradition,” she said. “I want to make the school even better and make an impact.”

Emerson’s service also extends to the community. She is involved in several volunteer activities with her church, including annual mission trips to Haiti.

Adam Boukari is the district’s Adult Volunteer of the Year and contributes his time and expertise at both the local school and district level. Despite his busy schedule as Assistant City Manager for the City of Alachua, he has contributed more than 500 hours of service over the last year and a half. At Santa Fe High School, he both tutors and mentors students. He chaperons field trips. He’s served as the president of the boy’s basketball Booster Club for seven years. Boukari also serves on the District Advisory Council, a group of local citizens who advise the School Board on key issues affecting Alachua County Public Schools.

Boukari said his one-on-one connections with the student are the most important of his volunteer activities.

“Mentoring is so rewarding, both for the student and for the mentor,” he said. “You see these kids grow up to be wonderful members of society, and it feels good to know that you had a part in that.”

“Adam Boukari is an alumnus of Santa Fe,” said LeClear. “He gives so much of his time to our students. What an incredible student mentor. His dedication to our high school benefits so many of our students,” she said.

The district’s senior Volunteer of the Year is Sally Holly. She volunteers about 30 hours every week at Professional Academies Magnet at Loften High School, and has racked up nearly 1000 hours since the beginning of the 2014-15 school year. Holly, fondly known as “Grandma Sally” to students and staff, has been volunteering in the Infant Room of the ACCEPT program (Alachua County Continuing Education for Pregnant/Parenting Teenagers).

“I just love the babies and seeing them smile and grow,” said Holly.

In addition to providing critical stimulation and love to the infants, Holly has also been a role model for the teens in the program.

"Grandma Sally is one of the most energetic persons in the childcare center at the golden age of seventy-five,” said Childcare Center Director Angela Monroe. “She often is seen reading to little babies while sitting on the floor and is always up for assisting the other care workers in taking the babies out for a stroller ride or assisting the other paraprofessionals with the older children on the playground," she said.

The state is expected to announce the five top volunteers in each of the three categories in the next few weeks.

Emerson, Boukari and Holly will be among 93 school volunteers recognized at the annual Alachua County Public Schools Outstanding School Volunteer Luncheon on Feb. 11, sponsored this year by the Florida Credit Union and the Rotary Club of Gainesville.

#     #     #

Email Cwalker@