By Lauren Owens, Education Reporter for the Florence Morning News
JOHNSONVILLE, S.C. – Alycesaundra Lyerly, a fifth-grader at Johnsonville Middle School, has won the National Beta Club John W. Harris Leadership Award for community service and leadership.
Junior Beta Club members, city officials and Junior Beta Club sponsors from the elementary and middle schools joined in the media center on Tuesday to announce Alycesaundra’s award.
“We started thinking about all the community service she has done over the last few years, and we just knew that we had to nominate her for this award,” said Johnsonville Elementary School teacher Adrian Filyaw during the recognition.
Alycesaundra is one of five students in her division in the U.S. and the only South Carolina student to receive the award. This is the first time Florence School District 5 has had a student to win the National Beta Club John W. Harris Leadership Award.
With the award, Alycesaundra will be recognized at the National Beta Club Convention in Oklahoma City, Okla., in June. Alycesaundra also will be able to go to the National Beta Club leadership camp during the summer for free.
Alycesaundra said her faith plays a large part in her desire to do community service.
“Service has taught me to work hard for my goals and that the Lord will always be with me,” Alycesaundra said.
Over the past few years, Alycesaundra has completed nearly 1,500 hours of community service, including raising nearly $400,000 worth of supplies for hurricane and flood victims. Alycesaundra's mother, Kelly Lyerly, said she and her sister Giavanna were featured on a TV show, which helped them raise money. She said they also got support from local churches and community members to help gather flood packets during the 1,000-year flood. The pair also has helped during other storms in six different states.
One project Alycesaundra led was a pageant to raise money for Saint Jude at Johnsonville Elementary School last year. During this pageant, the school raised nearly $8,000. Another pageant is being planned for next month.
Filyaw said the Junior Beta Club doesn't have that many students who have that many hours of community service.
“We were discussing this prior to this; a lot of adults don’t even do that much community service,” Filyaw said. “You grow up and truly understand as an adult how important it is to help others, but she’s already learned that lesson at a young age and put in that much effort.”
Sally Coker, a teacher at Johnsonville Middle School, said Alycesaundra has influenced others to get involved and be more service minded.
“Alycesaundra is going to be find someone who is not having the best day,” Coker said. “It’s like she attracts someone to try to assist or try to make them feel better. She’s always trying to be positive for someone else.”
Alycesaundra and Giavanna also started the Queens for a Cause three years ago, which is a charity organization that connects girls across the country to help serve different organizations across the U.S.
Kelly said she hopes Alycesaundra and her sister will inspire others to serve in their community.
“I’m just super proud of her for everything she’s done, and I’m just super proud that she has a heart for serving others,” Kelly said.
Alycesaundra Lyerly School Education Giavanna Kelly Lyerly Adrian Filyaw Johnsonville Middle School Junior Beta Club John W. Harris Leadership Award
Lauren Owens is a graduate of Johnsonville High School and Francis Marion University who studied mass communication and Spanish. She covers education at the Morning News.