Timeless Youth Philanthropist 2023
Luke Sharon is a senior at Lake City High School in Coeur d'Alene. He’s also the Student Body President of his class, the leader of the Student Advisory Group for CDA Public Schools, and a champion of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) learning in his community. The long list of accolades only begins to tell you about the generous, genuine person he is.
It’s fitting, then, that in recognition of all the ways he gives back and brings innovative ideas to his community, Luke is this year’s Timeless Youth Philanthropist. As his community can attest, Luke exemplifies the community-minded, altruistic spirit that this award stands for.
Rebecca Gershenson Smith, the Board President for Growing the STEM who nominated Luke for the Timeless Youth Philanthropist award, spoke to his dedication and intrepid spirit in her nomination:
In addition to the many roles he’s taken on, Luke serves as a student board member for Growing the STEM, a nonprofit that hosts after-school STEM programs. He also coaches the middle school STEM Club at Lakes Middle School. Last year, his first on the Growing the STEM board, Luke helped lead the board through a leadership transition. “He is thoughtful, reliable, considerate, intelligent, and just an all-around great and giving person to work with,” Rebecca said. “He is so clearly deserving. Luke’s contributions to Growing the STEM have been incredible. It’s only one of the many organizations he’s contributed to. He’s done a lot in different sectors. He’s going to leave a mark on the community.”
Luke’s enthusiasm for STEAM was first stoked while attending Sorensen Magnet School of the Arts and Humanities in Coeur d'Alene. When he heard about Math is Cool, a program that brings schools together to compete in a variety of math categories, he jumped at the opportunity to volunteer and began his connection to STEAM. He’s passionate about the ‘Arts’ in the acronym and has sparked discussions about integrating Theater into STEAM.
Luke may be one of the youngest board members on Growing the STEM, but that doesn’t limit his contributions. As a student coach and board member, he’s helped to lead intrepid, thoughtful updates in programming to benefit younger students. “My venture this year culminated with redoing the engineering program at my old middle school,” Luke said.
Luke and his friend, Simon, both coaches for the program, saw the opportunity to make it more engaging for students. “We wanted to allow students to jump in more, to make it more hands-on and interactive. That’s how I learn best,” Luke said of the curriculum refresh. “We were told it would be really difficult.” Despite the challenges, Luke and Simon jumped in, and “it was an amazing experience,” Luke said.
He brings this same enthusiasm to his roles with Growing the STEM. “I enjoy giving back to something and helping kids find love for something I've loved so much,” Luke said. “I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of resources available to me. Even outside of STEM, getting resources into the hands of students, whether that’s mental health or extracurricular programming, I want to give every student those opportunities.”
Luke felt “humbled, and very honored” to learn he’d won the Timeless Youth Philanthropist award. “I’m glad I picked up that call,” he said.
What I found helpful was seeking out the people who were already involved... just say yes more.
What advice would Luke give to other students interested in getting involved in their communities?
“What I found helpful was seeking out the people who were already involved,” Luke said. “Read your local press. A lot of the time people involved in the community will have stories about them. Look on social media, follow advocates, and reach out to people who are the movers and shakers of your community. When your school has an opportunity for student government, get involved. Just say yes more.”
Luke plans to attend college after he graduates from Lake City. He’s interested in politics and law, and while he’s contemplating the East Coast, his ties to his Coeur d'Alene community, and the legacy he’s creating for students to blossom in science, math, and the arts, are only continuing to build STEAM.