MORRIS – The Alida C. Bliss chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Morris chose four area teens to receive its annual Good Citizen Award.
The winner is chosen from senior boys and girls who are picked at Morris Community High School, Minooka Community High School, Coal City High School and Gardner-South Wilmington High School by staff, and in some cases, their fellow students.
Morris Community High School senior Katie Friend was chosen for her involvement with activities including National Honor Society, Literary Festival, Teens Resisting Our Universe’s Problems Effectively (T.R.O.U.P.E.) and her commitment to giving back to the community through I CARE, Rotary’s Food for Kids program, and the annual prom fashion show that helps students with financial difficulties to attend prom.
Minooka Community High School senior Lacey Viano was chosen for her involvement in National Honor Society and the Indian Athletic Leadership Club. She also is involved in library clubs, church events and VFW volunteer work.
Coal City High School senior Charles Elledge was chosen for his involvement in the spring musical, Madrigals choir, student council and National Honor Society. He also is involved with yearbook staff, Student’s Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D.), speech and math team. Outside of school, he has been a mascot for the Joliet Slammers and a crew leader for vacation bible school.
Gardner-South Wilmington High School senior Samantha Schultz was chosen for her involvement with National Honor Society and student council as well as winning numerous awards such as Student of the Year for the 2012-13 school year. She’s also involved in charity walks for the American Cancer Society and food and military drives.
“My guidance counselor asked if I wanted to participate,” Schultz said. “I felt like it was an honor to be chosen.”
The student fills out a personal history which must include home and community activities, as well as future plans, extracurricular activities and the qualities that make them a good citizen.
Viano was chosen by a teacher vote and wanted to participate, once she heard the honor was being held by DAR.
“I love America,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to participate and to speak my opinion, I was very excited.”
After the students are chosen they have to write an essay on a topic they are unaware of until the time of the writing.
“The participant cannot use any reference materials and only has two hours to complete the essay,” the Good Citizen Award material states.
This year, students were asked to answer the question “How does one’s personal heritage affect ones duty to our nation?” in the essay, which can only be 550 words in length.
The students write the essay at school and are able to use a computer as long as it is not connected to the internet or they may hand write it.
The students answered the question in very different ways.
“It was difficult, two of us took it in two different ways,” Elledge said. “Samantha took it as one’s personal heritage, I found it harder for me, because I don’t have a strong heritage, so I took it as inherit versus heritage.”
The students were judged by three judges, who are not DAR members and rank them based on scores.
Each participant receives a pin, wallet card, poster, certificate and $50.
Recipients were presented with their awards at an annual banquet held at the Morris Area Public Library earlier this month.