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Teen relishes community leadership role

Hannah Peterson is also straight-A student, sports enthusiast at Placer High
By: Bridget Jones, Special to the Journal
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Hannah Peterson, 16, loves to be involved in the Auburn community. The Placer High School sophomore was born in Auburn and was heartbroken when she moved to Palm Desert at the age of 8. “I wanted to move back,” Peterson said. “I’ve always liked (Auburn). And my dad basically had a deal with the company he moved down (to Palm Desert) with that he would only spend a few years down there.” Peterson said she was overjoyed when her family moved back to Auburn four years ago. She immediately got involved with the community. She enrolled in leadership, or student council, classes at E.V. Cain Middle School. In eighth grade she signed up for a new committee called the Auburn Youth Advisory Commission. The commission helps arrange events for and gives a voice to local teenagers. Peterson said the commission is important because it allows teens to get involved with Auburn, and it gives them something to do outside of school. “I think it keeps a lot of kids out of trouble,” Peterson said. “(In the commission) they could be doing something more proactive for the community and for themselves.” In June 2008 Peterson worked with the Auburn Arts Commission to host a youth art show at the city hall art gallery during the Auburn Art Walk. The show featured the art work of students from various local schools. She said she is hoping to make this show an annual event because it is one of the best memories she has from her two years as a commissioner. “I liked seeing how happy (the artists) were that their art was up, and I was happy that I got a chance to help them get some of their art up,” she said. “I thought it was a good way to get some of the youth together.” Peterson said another one of her goals as a commissioner is to help create a youth activities Web site that would be maintained for years to come. Being so involved with the community and wanting to see projects completed is just part of her personality, Peterson said. “I like to see things getting done — I like to accomplish things,” she said. Greg Robinson, a student activities teacher at Placer High, said Peterson never hesitates to get involved. “She’s the type of person you don’t really have to ask to do something,” Robinson said. “Really, she’s asking you what she can do instead. She’s obviously a very motivated individual.” On top of her work with the commission, Peterson has been involved in leadership classes at Placer High, in which she helps arrange rallies and club days. She is also a member of Interact, which is the high school version of Rotary. She’s a straight-A student, she plays basketball and runs track for Placer High as well as playing soccer in the fall with 49er United Soccer Club. Peterson said sports are very important to her, and she took track into consideration when deciding what high school to attend. “I wanted to go to Placer because I knew they had a good track program, and I think it’s taught me a lot,” she said. Robinson said he is amazed by Peterson’s dedication to school, community and sports. “I don’t know how she does it,” he said. “She’s (at school) more than some teachers and as much as I am. I’m sure she does feel the stress of it, but she does a very good job of doing it. She’s very reliable. I’ve never had any problem with her blowing off a responsibility or anything like that.” Kaitlyn Kelly, 15, a friend and fellow member of Interact, said Peterson reduces stress by knowing how to analyze and take action in various situations. “She can assess the situation, and figure out what needs to be done and give people guidance,” Kelly said. “A lot of people just stand around asking what to do, and she’s the person who says, ‘Ok, this is what needs to be done.’ I think it will definitely help her in the long run.” Peterson said she’s considering majoring in business management in college. She’s thinking about attending St. Mary’s College in Moraga, where she hopes to get a track scholarship. “I like to run and it kind of runs in my family,” Peterson said. “My dad ran track in college, and my brother, he goes to Chico right now. He’s a freshman and he’s probably going to be on the hurdle team.” Kelly said one of the most important things for people to know about Peterson is simply how much fun she is to be around. “She’s really sweet, and she’s always considering other people’s feelings,” Kelly said. “She’s always making sure everyone’s included when we’re hanging out, and she’s always laughing. She has the greatest laugh ever.” f you would like to recommend a teen to be profiled in this series contact Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com.