Every year, St. Mary’s School – an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School dedicated to inquiry-based academic excellence and based in Aliso Viejo – presents a Legacy Leadership Award that honors a St. Mary’s eighth grade student who demonstrates superior leadership skill, evidence of service, and civic responsibility.
The competition focuses on four main principles called the “Four Aces”, which form the cornerstones of a strong community: Attitude, Commitment, Engagement and Service. Each student in the competition writes two essays and is interviewed individually by a panel of judges representing local community and business leaders.
Last month, 13 finalists were named for this prestigious award, including three from Newport Beach.
This year’s winner, announced at the leadership awards ceremony on Feb. 6, 2015, in front of more than 1,000 students, parents, and members of the community, was Alex Audette of Newport Beach.
Audette’s aptitude for leadership and service far exceeds her years. In addition to serving as Chaplain of St. Mary’s ASB, Alex has been involved with yearbook, chorus, and the school’s lacrosse, volleyball, and soccer teams.
In regards to her on-campus visibility, Alex explained, “I know [my classmates] can see that I am not at all a shy person, and I’m not afraid to use the voice inside of me, whether that means cheering them on, or making a game plan to get us out of bad situations. I show them that I will never give up.”
Outside of school, Alex has used her voice as a champion for charitable causes across Orange County, participating in fundraiser walks benefitting cancer and juvenile diabetes research and hosting holiday carnivals for the Riverside School of the Deaf. This year, Alex even donated 8 inches of her own hair for Locks of Love and is an active member of National Charity League.
Most recently, Alex was the face of the an anti-cyberbullying campaign founded by her sister Taylor, called “SayIt2MyFace.” The campaign culminated in a flashmob dance at the University of Southern California, which Alex was instrumental in planning and executing.
Even with a busy schedule and a wide array of interests, Alex stands behind her service and community involvement as an invaluable learning experience. “I didn’t want to just be a leader of one thing, but a leader in life.”
Q&A with Alex Audette
Q: You’ve been involved in so many activities: NCL, St. Mary’s Sports Teams, your sister’s anti-cyberbullying campaign. Which experience was the most rewarding for you and why?
A: The anti-cyberbullying campaign I created with sister was incredibly rewarding. I really enjoyed all of fun events like the flashmob on USC’s campus, but what inspired me the most was the feedback we got on our Facebook page from kids who were affected by cyberbullying. There are people who feel so alone, and it meant a lot to create a community where they could see other people care about them.
Q: How does it feel to receive the Legacy Leadership award? What were your first thoughts when you won?
A: When they opened the envelope with us on stage, I thought I saw my last name, but I didn’t believe it until they read my name. I was in shock. I was so happy to be honored.
Q: What is your favorite thing about St. Mary’s? Are there any special moments that stand out to you?
A: I love St. Mary’s School because they let you be yourself and encourage you to become a leader on campus, like through ASB or the school ambassadors. It’s funny because my mom and I talk about how she hated middle school, but St. Mary’s is such a strong community. I can’t even think about graduating.
Q: Thinking WAY in the future, have you thought about what you want you might want to do as a career “when you grow up”? Do you think leadership will always be a part of your life?
A: Right now, I’m just looking ahead to high school, and I want to be really involved in clubs and ASB in high school. At some point in my career, I’d love to do another big awareness campaign or something involving the entertainment industry.
Q: When it comes to leadership and community service, who is one of your role models?
A: My grandpa inspires me the most because growing up he didn’t have the greatest life. He worked so hard and started a business so that his family could have a better life and more opportunities. He was the person who showed me that hard work can really pay off.
Q: Do you think that winning the Legacy Leadership award makes you an inspiration to younger students?
A: I hope that I can inspire my classmates to become leaders on campus and not be afraid to go out for the Legacy Leadership award. Don’t be afraid of failure.
Q: What advice would you give to other people your age who want to become leaders?
A: If you feel like you’re too young to be a leader, it helps to remember that everyone has to start somewhere. Everyone has a voice, so just be yourself and use that voice.