March-April 2011 | Parenting

Top Teens 2011

Bethesda Magazine's 2011 Extraordinary Teen Awards.

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The Social Activist

Sam Taussig

Senior, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School

What sets him apart: As a student at Westland Middle School, Sam Taussig heard an announcement about LearnServe International, a program that teaches high school students to lead efforts toward social change. He signed up and spent that summer in Zambia, educating local youths about HIV/AIDS and clean water issues.

Today, the 18-year-old Chevy Chase resident is the supervising ambassador for LearnServe, mentoring and teaching local youths how to start nonprofits. As the junior branch president of Children’s International Summer Villages D.C. (CISV DC) and liaison to the Northeast National Youth Committee for Children’s International Summer Villages USA (CISV USA), an international peace and education group, he organizes and leads community service projects and oversees six chapters in the Northeast region. Sam has traveled to Zambia and Paraguay with LearnServe International and to Germany with CISV USA.

Other accomplishments: Liaison to B-CC’s Student Government Association (SGA).

What others say: “Many times his viewpoint on a school issue has informed my decision or action,” says Karen Lockard, principal of B-CC. “Sam embodies the idealistic energy of youth and a mature global viewpoint that is rare in teens. He can see the big picture and respond accordingly. I often hear, ‘Ask Sam…’ at the SGA meetings. It is not uncommon for young people to have big ideas and care deeply for a cause or a project. The difference with this young man is that he takes action and follows through.”

What his future holds: Sam intends to major in economics, with an emphasis on developing countries and nations in need, or in international relations and foreign assistance. He also wants to join the Peace Corps one day because its “style is to become a member of the community.” And he hopes to earn a law degree and join the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps.