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Changing Our Communities, Changing the World

Vice President Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan salute the Parade All-America Service Team to recognize high school students who are changing their communities through service.

Yesterday, Vice President Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan saluted the Parade All-America Service Team to recognize high school students who are changing their communities through service. Parade Magazine, which has featured All-America teams for over 50 years, partnered with the national youth-service organization The League and the HandsOn Network to honor high school students who have demonstrated a remarkable commitment to service. This week, the 15 winners were honored at a special ceremony in Washington.

The Vice President spoke to the All-America High School Service Team:

Your achievements are of a special kind because they aren’t for your own glory or fame. They are much bigger than that – they are in service to others. They are about seeing your fellow citizens’ needs and doing something about it. You are leading by example, and that example is changing the lives of the people you serve, changing your communities, and changing the world.

And Secretary Duncan said:

Americans are many different things. We are hard workers and great thinkers, dreamers and doers. We are also a nation of givers. This spirit of service is one of our best assets. We see it in the teacher who works extra hours to ensure that her students learn, the soldier who goes into battle for his country, and the volunteer who leaves her home to build shelter for others. The members of the All-America Service Team are powerful examples of this spirit. By serving their neighbors in communities both near and far, they know their lives will be richer, our country will be stronger, and the world will be a better place.

Vice President Biden Speaks to All-America Service Team

Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan listen as All America High School Service Team Member Kaylee Shirrell introduces the Vice President during an event for the Parade Magazine All-America High School Service Team in the South Court Auditorium at the White House, Washington, DC. June 23, 2010. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Perhaps All-American Kaylee Shirrell, the 18-year-old from Brownsburg, IN who introduced the Vice President, said it best:

There is no higher calling and nothing more personally rewarding than service to others. Through honors such as the All-America High School Service Team, we can reach out and teach current and future generations the value of leadership and community service... Each and every one of us has the opportunity to contribute to society. It starts with a personal connection and before you know it, what begins as just an idea, results in reaching out through service to others.

The Vice President added, “We adults can appear to inspire, but the people who really inspire young people are other young people.  And you guys are an inspiration.”

We all can follow the example of these outstanding students by volunteering in our communities. This Administration is committed to promoting service and encouraging people to make a difference. Last summer, we launched the ‘United We Serve’ initiative. This summer, we’re following-up with ‘United We Serve: Let’s Read. Let’s Move.’—an effort to engage young people in service programs that focus on childhood obesity and summer reading. Visit to find more information about how you can get involved this summer and all year long. 

Evan Ryan is Assistant to the Vice President and Special Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement