October 12, 2018

From Kotlik to Kodiak, teens from across the state were honored for the good work they are doing in their communities at the 2018 Spirit of Youth Awards, which took place April 27 at the Anchorage Downtown Marriott.

The Spirit of Youth Awards is the organization’s premiere event, highlighting dedicated young people and unsung heroes from around Alaska. Now in its 20th year, the awards recognize the hard work and efforts of these future leaders who utilize this opportunity to share their inspiring and heartwarming stories.

Thank you to the Alaska Teen Media Institute for creating these radio stories!


Duncan OkitkunKotlik

Duncan shares his Yup’ik culture with the world every chance he gets. His songs and public speaking heals and strengthens people in his village. He performs at his school, instilling pride in his peers and is a great role model for the young people of his village.

Story By Aviva Hirsch, Spirit of Youth


Gabriel “Gabe” Miller—Ninilchik

Gabe decided to transfer to a larger school in order to pursue his passion for science. The move added three hours to his school day. Yet, he makes time, through Ninilchik Tribe Teen Center, to work with others to build clubs, programs and places for Ninilchik youth to go for peer support.

Story By Kendrick Whiteman, Bartlett High School


Isaiah Dunegan-Lain—Anchorage

In a busy classroom, at lunchtime, Isaiah was the only person who observed a student choking on food. He was able to utilize his first aid/CPR skills and save a life.

Story By Aviva Hirsch, Spirit of Youth


Kaylynn Zagyva—Wasilla

Kaylynn participates in many community programs and activities despite recently having surgery for a brain tumor, which caused her to have to relearn much of her speech.

Story By Maile Kamohakula, King Tech High


Rafael Bitanga—Kodiak

Rafael is the owner and director of the Crepe Escape, a food booth in Kodiak. He donates 10 percent of Crepe Escape’s profits to the Brother Francis Shelter.

Story By Maile Kamohakula, King Tech High


Robert Otto—Kodiak

Robert has served as a defense and prosecuting attorney with the Kodiak Teen Court. As a judge, he has mentored new youth attorneys and leads with integrity and honesty.

Story By Danielle DuClos, Dimond High School graduate


Robin “Puck” Van Dommelen—Anchorage

Puck has developed a keen interest in conservation of the environment and has lead projects on bird conservation, remediation of natural landscape, documenting and combating invasive species in Alaska. He also conducted an energy audit for his high school.

Story By Danielle DuClos, Dimond High School graduate


Rylee Mcintosh—Palmer

Rylee supported the Magic Yarn Project. She and a crew made wigs for children with cancer.

Story By Cornilius Nelson, Bartlett High School graduate