NEW PORT RICHEY — Madison Morrow, 14-year-old Gulf Middle School student, has been volunteering for more than one-third of her life. Her helpful efforts recently earned her Pasco schools' Outstanding Youth Volunteer of the year and the Region 4 State of Florida Youth Volunteer of the Year award.
It started back in third grade at Calusa Elementary. Madison saw a girl being bullied in a movie. The incident touched Madison, who reasoned she could address that issue at her own school. She and a friend, Drew Dunn, organized about 20 Calusa students into an anti-bullying club.
When she moved to Mittye P. Locke Elementary, she organized a club with 15 students. The clubs at Calusa and Gulfside met before or after school hours.
"We were really engaged in these clubs," said Madison, who speaks quietly of her leadership roles.
She moved to Gulf Middle School, but continued returning to Mittye P. Locke to work with students. This year, she helped fifth-graders with presentations and with their social studies. It was from Mittye P. Locke that she received the district nomination for outstanding student volunteer.
Madison's volunteering goes further. Mornings before school, she helps with clerical chores in the Gulf High School office. That's convenient since her mom, Andrea Morrow, is the Gulf High Parent Support Coordinator, and her dad, Michael Morrow, is Gulf High Technology Services Technician.
"I feel it's really important to give back," says Madison.
At Gulf Middle, Madison and both parents have served on the School Advisory Committee for the past three years, giving Madison an inside view of how a school operates.
Madison is an A student, a member of the National Junior Honor Society and serves on Student Council. She is involved in theater, a member of Thespians and played the supporting role of Kelsey in the school's recent production of "High School Musical."
"Madison is an outstanding student. She has good character, is well-liked and a real go-getter," said Liz Kuhns, Gulf Middle Parent Coordinator.
Madison plays recreational league soccer and has an interest in becoming an athletic trainer.
"I plan to do dual enrollment," Madison said, adding that her goals are to complete her associate's degree at the same time she graduates high school, something she said her mom did.
Madison moves to Gulf High in the fall, and she'll continue with her volunteering.
"I really like helping kids and giving back to the community," Madison said.
"We will dearly miss her," Kuhns said. "We need more like her."
Gail Diederich is a retired Pasco County teacher of 32 years. She writes feature stories with an education focus for Pasco and Hernando counties. She can be reached at email@example.com.