Click photo to enlarge
everly Knight photos Margarette Gil, a Dozier-Libbey Medical High School senior, was named Antioch's Youth of the Year. Tiffany Cooper, an Antioch High School junior, took first runner-up. She's here with Colleen Isenber (at left), Assemblyman Jim Fraizer and Antioch Mayor Wade Harper. (Judy: Isenber is with Congressman McNerney's office)

Two Antioch students proved that being a giver can ultimately make you a receiver.

During the city's annual event to honor its top citizens, Margarette Gil was named Youth of the Year, while Tiffany Cooper landed runner-up.

Gil said getting the award was a "humbling experience. It's a great way to complete my high school career." The Dozier-Libbey Medical High School senior was nominated by Ariel Chan, volunteer coordinator at Antioch's Kaiser Permanente.

Chan nominated Gil because "she actively participates in volunteer opportunities that help Antioch, such as serving the seniors at Thanksgiving, participating in charity events, and helping with Keep Antioch Beautiful. She is also active at her school tutoring students.

Margarette's passion in giving back to the community has shown through all she has achieved."

Gil said she enjoys hearing about people's life stories.

"These stories leave a lasting impression on me. It is these little things which make my volunteering experience quite enduring. This opportunity to spread some happiness to another's life is a great feeling," Gil said.

After graduation this June, Gil will major in biochemistry at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. She plans to continue her volunteerism.

Of course, Chan was happy Gil won, but said, "It must have been a challenging decision for the selection committee to choose one winner among all the nominees, who have all made amazing contributions."

Contributing is certainly a focus for Tiffany Cooper.

The Antioch High junior is active in the community, volunteering at Kimball and Fremont Elementary schools. She is a junior coach for Impact Cheer, works as a Tobacco Usage Peer Educator, is a member of her high school's Eco-Cat cleanup team and helps with the Ban Against Bullying campaign at Antioch Middle School. She also recently earned the title of Miss Congeniality in the Miss Teen California USA pageant.

"She is very deserving (of this)," said Antioch High teacher Shira Sweitzer, who nominated Cooper. "Education is very important to her. I have watched her grow so much over the past two years, and not just academically. She has it all, but most of all, she has a very big heart."

Cooper said the honor was "such an amazing feeling."

"Being nominated by Mrs. Sweitzer was the biggest honor of all. She was my English teacher when I was a freshman and she has time and time again shown how much of an all-around amazing person she is," Cooper said.

This summer, Cooper will attend the Stanford University Envision Summer program. Last year she was at Harvard University.

Contact Trine Gallegos at trineg@att.net. Note: Trine also does community outreach for Antioch High.

---