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BE's Warner earns YMCA Youth Character Award

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      Bullitt East High School freshman Savannah Warner has been honored with a Louisville YMCA Youth Character Award.

     YMCA Membership Director Anita Stump submitted a glowing nomination that accentuated Savannah’s belief on God.

     “I really liked that they highlighted my strong Christian faith,” Savannah said. “My faith is the most important thing in my life.”

     Stump accompanied Savannah to the stage for the award presentation followed by a light-hearted moment.

     “When we walked up there she gave me a big hug and my flower that was pinned to my shirt fell off and she had to stand there and put it back on. It was pretty funny,” Savannah said.

     Savannah was honored with 12 other youth in metropolitan Louisville at the YMCA Youth Character Awards celebration in downtown Louisville. She earned a $1000 scholarship towards college and $500 that must be used to enhance her leadership skills.

     She was amazed to be chosen while a freshman.

     “I was like ‘Me, really,’” she said. “There were like three freshmen and all the rest were sophomores, juniors or seniors so it was very special. I am very grateful and humbled by the kind words Mrs. Stump wrote in the nomination.”

     Savannah’s mother, Stephanie Warner, is a special education teacher at Shepherdsville Elementary. The moment she learned her oldest daughter was receiving the award, she sent her a text.

     “Mom texted me in class. She was so excited she couldn’t wait for me to get home!” Savannah said.

     “I am grateful for so many things but first and foremost by Christian faith,” she continued. “This is what inspires me to give my best effort in everything I do. God gave me the skills and talents to do certain things and I want Him to get all the glory.”

     Savannah’s personal heroes are her parents, Stephanie and Steve Warner.

     “My parents are seriously the best,” she said. “They’ve always pushed me to do the things I wanted to do and to never give up even if I was discouraged. They’re probably the reason I’m so comfortable with who I am because they’ve always built me up and made me feel good about myself. I’m grateful that they’ve always been here for me and we have a great relationship…one that I don't see many of my friends having with their parents. My dad and I are partners in crime and my mom is basically my best friend. They've raised me in church and are great Godly role models.”

     While most 15 year-old youth cannot wait for the school year to end, it is another beginning of renewal for Savannah as she travels to south central Kentucky and White Mills Christian Camp.

     For a decade, she has volunteered at the camp working with youth in first through fifth grade.

     “This has been one of the most fulfilling times of my life,” Savannah smiled. “I cannot wait for the camp to start because there are so many activities ranging from crafts to sports we do with kids. I am truly grateful for this opportunity.”

     Over the years, Savannah has been asked to lead various age groups and the responsibility and its challenges have made her grow as a teenager.

     “Some of the kids have a hard time listening and want to do their own thing,” she said. “I have learned to be firm when them but from a Christian standpoint. I need them to understand they have to follow rules, listen and pay attention for everyone to have a good time.”

     She really enjoys helping lead worship at camp.

     “It is such an amazing feeling to praise God and his creation during the summer at camp,” she said.

     Savannah possesses a very giving nature. She volunteers at Okolona Christian Church in the nursery and participates in worship with the youth group.

     In school, she is a member of United for East (UFE) and Friends of Rachel (FOR) inspired by Rachel’s Challenge. Her favorite class and teacher are journalism and Larry Steinmetz.

     “I love to write stories about people,” Savannah said. “I also like sports, soccer and running with my Mom.”

     Soccer is a huge part of her life and if she could be on a soccer field every second every day, she would.

     “My teammates and coaches have also had a huge part in who I am,” Savannah said. “Steve Gentry, my coach at Bullitt East, has been very patient with me this season. I’m one of those players who likes to play any position and he’s finally found one position where I feel most comfortable and that’s left midfielder. I love it!”

     “Along with Steve, Chris O'Brien, who has been my coach since I was playing YMCA soccer at the age of 7 has played a huge part of my life,” she added. “He’s like a big brother/another father. I respect him like a dad, but we joke around and stuff. I’m grateful for both of them and I don’t think I would be where I am today (as far as my soccer skills) if it wasn’t for them putting in the time and effort. They’re the best!”

     Her life goal is to be an athletic trainer and a missionary. She deeply desires to travel to Haiti to spread the gospel message.

     “My Dad has been to Haiti; he returned with the most awesome but heartbreaking stories,” she said. “It makes me grateful for what we have in this country.”

     Haiti was devastated by a major earthquake in 2010.

     Savannah is clearly making the most out of every opportunity during her young age.

     She advises fellow students to downplay a common theme in today’s society.

     “Don’t get dramatic…be what God wants you to be,” she said. “Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way and don’t pass it up.”

     Savannah also knows she wants to be a role model for her younger sisters, Shaelin and Victoria.

     “I want to be someone my sisters can be proud of,” she said.

     This is the second consecutive year for a Bullitt East student to earn a YMCA Youth of Character award. Senior Phillip Burress, the son of Lauren and Rodney Burress, was recognized last year.

     Bullitt County Public Schools has over 13,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12.