Prater is Graf Youth of the Year
From left: Samantha Grether, a CYSS child youth assistant at the Netzaberg Youth Center, laughs it up with 18-year-old Rebekah Prater, who was recently named Grafenwoehr Youth of the Year, during a study session at the center.

VILSECK, Germany -- The words of Mahatma Ghandi ring true for graduating Vilseck High School senior Rebekah Prater.

"I wanted to see the change in the world," Prater wrote in an essay recently, regarding her involvement with the Keystone Club, which is a part of the Boys and Girls Club of America. "I wanted to be able to change the world and to better it somehow."

This essay, along with a video describing how her involvement within the community has shaped her character and influenced her life, garnered her the Boys and Girls Club of America Grafenwoehr Youth of the Year award.

Established in 1947, Youth of the Year is BGCA's premier recognition program for club members, promoting service to club, community and family; academic success; strong moral character; life goals; and poise and public speaking ability, according to the BGCA website.
While the program is a tool for fostering young people's personal growth and leadership qualities, Prater's 18 years have forged her character greatly. She has had life experiences that most people only dream of: living in the Republic of Georgia, China, Africa and Europe, as well as a strong Christian background and faith that guides her moral constitution.

Moving every few years can tax a young girl's social life, and Prater admits that making friends was never her strong point. That changed when she met Samantha Grether while volunteering at the Netzaberg Youth Center. Grether, a CYSS child youth assistant at the center, introduced Prater to the Keystone Club and Prater shined.

In less than a year and with over 100 hours of volunteering, Prater came out of her shell, found new experiences through involvement and was forever changed by the friendship she felt from Grether.

"She influenced me a lot," said Prater.

"I see her as my little sister," said Grether.

Through a shy interior, Prater uses action to communicate. She took on the role of historian of the Keystone Club, taking photos and managing the Facebook page. In addition to homework, keeping up an impressive GPA, student life and household duties, she is actively involved in Vilseck High School's JROTC.

Prater stated upon entering high school she was forced to join the JROTC program by the prodding of her parents. While she was reluctant at first, the impact of the program on her life and the lessons she learned, most notable self-discipline, have guided her throughout her remaining high school career.

She feels the same way about the Keystone Club.

"JROTC and Keystone influenced me and helped me grow," said Prater. "I know who I am and who I want to be because of my involvement in these clubs."

In the video sent to the competition board, Prater summed up her life thus far and affirmed her goals of attending Washington State University and perhaps becoming a FBI special agent one day. She looked back on her full life and the people in it.

"It's because of the huge impact and influences on my life that I am who I am today," began Prater. "It's because of mistakes and regrets that help mold me into being a better person.
"It is through these experiences that I found myself."

Page last updated Tue June 19th, 2012 at 10:09