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Class act / An outstanding young Western New Yorker

Colleen McNamara always stays busy.

The Clarence High School senior is secretary of the student council and vice-president of the school's chapter of the National Honor Society. She's clocked hundreds of community service hours, and when she kicks back, she's a dance student at David DeMarie Dance Studio.

"I have to be busy all of the time," Colleen says. "I love projects as long as they're beneficial in some way."

The 17-year-old even finds time for a job -- providing child care for a family of nine children -- including quadruplets.

"I adore the four girls that I care for, as well as the five older children," Colleen comments. "This job is extremely important to me. If I'm unable to make it to one of my shifts, I find someone to cover for me."

Clarence High Student Council adviser Kevin Starr points to Colleen's "uncanny ability to initiate and carry out major projects, often involving the coordination of events and activities affecting hundreds of people."

Take the time she was asked to decorate and organize the front foyer of the school for the Guitar Club Concert.

"I got right to work, because I can never sit still with a project," Colleen recalls. "Before the school day was over, I had already drawn out a plan of how the front foyer would look, ordered balloons, asked the Technology Department to donate a large roll of the paper, asked the Art Club to paint seven-foot guitars, persuaded the Youth Leadership Class and the Varsity Club to sell food and drinks, and organized a 'hat-day' to cover costs of the decorations."

The event was a big success, raising money for the homeless.

"The complaints I received -- that I was being taken advantage of because I was asked to complete this task only eight days before the event -- were replaced with compliments that I did a great job," Colleen remembers.

"Sitting back has never been an option for me. Though it sometimes may become overwhelming, I wouldn't have it any other way."

Colleen wants a career that will utilize all her skills.

"Helping other people is what I thrive on; organization and planning are my passions. When I'm out of college, I hope to have a degree in event planning. I'd like to start my own business and plan events around the world."

Know a young outstanding Western New Yorker? Tell us about your nomination, including date of birth and address, for possible publication in Class Acts. Photos cannot be returned. E-mail, or write to: Louise Continelli, The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240.

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