NCL Senior Recognition Event sends off graduating seniors

May 24, 2017 — by Chelsea Leung

After the pre-recorded speeches of seniors Kelsey Kinoshita, Hannah Leonard, Grace Rothschild, Maxine Parr, Sophie Parr, Makenna Seagraves and Sophia Crolla were played from a slideshow, each girl greeted their parents. As their moms placed special necklaces around their necks, their dads scooped them into tight hugs.

This “parent greeting” is tradition of the National Charity League’s (NCL) annual Senior Recognition event, the organization’s final ceremony for graduating seniors.

The event celebrates the work graduating seniors have done with their mothers over the past six years with their chapter of NCL, a mother-daughter philanthropic organization. Chapters are determined by family residence and separated into classes by grade.

Seven seniors from Saratoga High are actively involved with the Saratoga-Los Gatos Chapter’s Class of 2017. Their Senior Recognition event took place on March 18 at the Fourth Street Summit Center in San Jose.

It began with a cocktail hour and a ceremony, in which the NCL chapter president Gail Kepler, class president Crolla and members all gave speeches about their experience in NCL. The ceremony concluded with dinner, dessert and dancing.

“Recognition was a really fun event with a bunch of friends, so even though it was sad to be officially done with NCL, it was a really fun and memorable way to end it,” Leonard said.

According to parent Jeanine Seagraves, the Senior Recognition Event began in the early 1990s when founding members Mimi Ahern and Reiko Iwanaga started a tradition called “Presents.” In 2005, NCL renamed the celebration “Senior Recognition,” which now includes many customs such as the wearing of long white dresses.

Of the 23 girls in the graduating class, 13 attended the optional event with their invited friends and family.

“My favorite part of the event was getting to share memories of the past six years [in NCL] with my mom,” Crolla said.

Every chapter of the National Charity League works with different local organizations to provide service opportunities for members and their moms. For example, at the Saratoga library, Kinoshita has helped with book sales, organized books and shelved loans and DVDs.

Kinoshita’s favorite volunteering experience was at the Book-Go-Round, a secondhand bookstore in downtown Saratoga that gives all proceeds to the Saratoga library.

“I got to share my love of reading with the community and met all kinds of people living in Saratoga,” Kinoshita said.

Members must work at least 25 hours per year, but most girls in the Saratoga-Los Gatos chapter reach up to 75 hours a year. Over the past six years, the Class of 2017 members collectively worked 7,503 hours, Crolla said.

Parents agree that working with NCL has influenced their daughters’ growth in many ways. For example, Ms. Seagraves has seen her daughter Makenna develop leadership skills as well as “discover what it means to volunteer in your community.”

“[Makenna] has learned what the big picture is all about outside of the bubble where we live,” Ms. Seagraves said. “Compassion for others is the most important growth anyone can hope for."

Although her work with the NCL is over for now, Crolla can see herself rejoining as a mother if she has a daughter of her own.

“Being able to work with people that are living in extreme poverty or people with special needs has really opened my eyes to how privileged of an area I live in and how lucky I am to have what I have,” Crolla said. “It has made me closer with my mom and the girls I worked alongside.”