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Buckley youth to compete for state-level recognition

Ernesto Flores, Buckley's Military Youth of the Year, left, and his brother, Derick, right, show off their Military Youth of the Month awards. (courtesy photo)

Ernesto Flores, Buckley's Military Youth of the Year, left, and his brother, Derick, right, show off their Military Youth of the Month awards. (courtesy photo)

Ernesto Flores, Buckley's Military Youth of the Year, stands with his siblings during the holiday season. (courtesy photo)

Ernesto Flores, Buckley's Military Youth of the Year, stands with his siblings during the holiday season. (courtesy photo)

Ernesto Flores, Buckley's Military Youth of the Year, back left, stands with his family before seeing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie. (courtesy photo)

Ernesto Flores, Buckley's Military Youth of the Year, back left, stands with his family before seeing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie. (courtesy photo)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- After writing multiple essays, putting in dozens of hours of volunteer time and taking leadership roles in youth programs, Ernesto Flores, 15, has earned his title of Buckley's Military Youth of the Year.

Military Youth of the Year is a program partnered with and hosted by the Boys and Girls Club of America to highlight children ages 14 to 18 who excel and stand out from their peers.

Youth of the Year is BGCA's premier recognition program for club members, promoting service to the club, community and family; academic success; strong moral character; life goals; and poise and public speaking ability, according to the BGCA website.

The BGCA hosts two separate competitions, one for dependents of military members and one for civilians.

Flores, a sophomore in high school, was chosen as Buckley's youth of the year for his dedication to being involved in the community.

"There's more than a few things about this young gentleman," said Vincent Kurtz, Buckley Youth Programs team coordinator. "He's got an outstanding academic record. I believe he has over a 4.0 at the moment."

Kurtz went on to explain the many things Ernesto does to lead and make a positive influence on the youth of Buckley.

"He volunteers six to nine hours every week to help our staff and help conduct programs," Kurtz said, referring to the base youth programs. "He is also an officer at our Keystone Leadership Club and is our secretary at our Youth Leadership Club."

"I'm very proud," Givan said. "I couldn't be more proud of anything in the world. He inspires me to do better."

Winning the title of Buckley's Military Youth of the Year is just the beginning for Flores.
He will now compete at a state-level against the winners from all other military installations in Colorado. It will be a two-day competition in downtown Denver on March 23-24.

In the situation that Flores wins the Military Youth of the Year competition, his stepfather, Staff Sgt. Michael Givan, 460th Security Forces Squadron Pass and ID NCO in charge, would see it as a reason to celebrate.

"We would celebrate," Givan laughed. "We'd probably go to Disney Land."

The initiative that Flores has taken to better himself and his community inspires not only himself, but his stepfather as well.

"I'm thankful that I have a great son," he added. "I wish him the best of luck, I love him."
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