Jefferson Awards: Student Saves SF School Programs Amid Cuts

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Jefferson Award Winner Logan Cai (CBS)

Jefferson Award Winner Logan Cai (CBS)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – When Wallenberg High School in San Francisco lost its librarian in budget cuts last year, an 18-year-old student volunteered to take over. His efforts to save the resource have earned him this week’s Jefferson Award.

“If there’s no one else to do the job, I will.’ That’s the motto of senior Logan Cai.

“After two weeks of training, I (could) actually do all this stuff,” Cai remembered.

Cai and fellow library intern Fanny Lau put in the time when they weren’t in class.

Social studies teacher Judy Mahnke said what happened next is unprecedented.

“Logan made the proposition to the new principal, ‘Can we run the library?’ and she was like, ‘Can’t have kids running the library, it takes a master’s degree.’ Then she met Logan, saw his presentation, and said OK,” Mahnke explained.

Then Logan developed a student survey to decide what books to buy with $6,000 in Proposition H library money. Mahnke said another librarian was impressed:

“She couldn’t believe kids had done that because it was exactly what she would’ve done,” Mahnke recalled.

Cai’s service extends far beyond the library. At Wallenberg, each senior is required to do 100 hours of community service. Cai has done so much, he lost count.

When the school budget didn’t have enough money for a yearbook staff last year, Cai volunteered to do most of it himself.

“I enjoy doing it. It’s fun creating pages and going to all the sporting events,” he said.

Fanny Lau said students associate Cai with community service.

“When I walk by and I mention Logan’s name, they go, ‘Yearbook guy, camera guy, library guy,'” said Lau.

Cai became the only student at school with a box in the teacher’s mailroom. His friends call him an inspiration.

“I learned there’s always a solution to every problem,” Lau said. “He can find it even if most of the adults can’t.”

“When there’s a need you jump in,” Cai added. “I don’t like to see things fall apart.”

At the campus Wellness Center, he developed such a successful nutrition presentation, he was asked to repeat it at a UC Berkeley health conference. He developed the school website. And he was a member — even founder — of countless school clubs.

The San Francisco Giants recently honored his community service at home plate.

“It’s great they’re recognizing me, but I don’t like to be praised that often,” he said.

There’s no doubt Wallenberg will miss the A-student, who’s bound for UCLA.

“It’s going to be hard to replace him,” Mahnke said. “And I fear we’ll have to replace him with several adults who get paid for what they do. Logan’s service to the school’s been incredible.”

So for showing extraordinary initiative in serving his high school, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Logan Cai.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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