In addition to being an honor roll student throughout her high school years, 17- year-old Michelle Vitelli is highly involved in her community and school.
Since age 12, Michelle has volunteered at Camp Happiness (a 44-year-old city- sponsored special needs camp in Milford) -- and she became a counselor at 15. Michelle's father, William Vitelli, has worked at the camp since he was 16 and is presently co-director.
"I've always loved volunteering with kids but being at the camp changed my outlook on what I wanted to be. I want to help kids succeed, and work with children with special needs year-round in the future," said Vitelli.
Michelle has volunteered as a Sunday school teacher at St. Mary's Church in Milford. She was also asked by the principal of her former elementary school (Orange Avenue) to tutor a fifth-grade student.
Michelle speaks proudly as she says, "It felt good to see the student's progress and help them improve while working one on one."
Michelle also volunteered at The Orange Avenue School Drama Club for four years.
Since freshman year, Michelle has volunteered with the Science Olympics at Lauralton Hall School.
"Schools, usually from the inner city, spend the day with us and are involved in competition and games; awards are given out at the end of the day," said Vitelli.
"Another school event I enjoyed helping out with was 'Christmas In The Mansion,' but it was discontinued this year," said a disappointed Vitelli.
S.A.D.D. (Students Against Destructive Decisions) is another school venture of Michelle's where she holds the position of vice president.
"We promote teens to make good choices year-round but we especially promote during prom season," Vitelli explains.
"One of my favorite activities at school is Youth and Government. We create bills and then hold a weekend conference in Hartford every March and have a mock debate. It is a hands-on view to see how a bill gets passed and how the process works."
Michelle and a select group of other students were chosen from Connecticut to fly to North Carolina as youth delegates to attend the weeklong Conference Of National Affairs in July. According to ymcacona.org, "This program offers unusual opportunities for a young person to do research in the area of National and International concern; to organize this information into a documented proposal; to engage in intensive discussion and to debate these proposals with understanding young people from other states."
Besides volunteering, Michelle also has a sporty side and is involved in field and ice hockey during the fall and winter months. In between her volunteering, studies and sports, she also finds the time to be a part of The Student Council and Spanish Club.
Michelle will be attending the youth conference in July then working at Camp Happiness and volunteering at a Bible camp in Stamford.
After graduating next year, she plans to attend Quinnipiac University in Hamden and enroll in the occupational therapy program.