Area high school seniors definitely know what it means to be good citizens of the community, the nation and the world, several members of the Alida C. Bliss Daughters of the American Revolution, or DAR, learned Monday.
Four students were awarded “Good Citizen Awards” from DAR, nominated by their schools and chosen for their community activities, their school involvement, grades, extracurricular activities and other qualities judges felt made them good citizens.
Chosen were Allison L. Perkins, of Gardner-South Wilmington High School; Tommy R. Fatigante, of Coal City High School; Kiley Elaine Saunders, of Minooka Community High School; and Lauren Elaine Galloway, of Morris Community High School.
“You would just be amazed at their biographies and what they have accomplished in high school,” DAR chapter chairman Carol Narvick said.
It’s quite a thing just to apply for the award. In addition to filling out forms about their involvements, students must send in school transcripts, two letters of recommendation and an essay.
The essay is on a different topic each year, Narvick explained. This year, the subject was to write about the freedoms and responsibilities of a good citizen. The biggest challenge was to complete the essays in under two hours.
Tommy Fatigante wrote his in his sponsor’s classroom after school one afternoon. His teacher opened the sealed envelope containing the topic only when Tommy arrived.
“The first thing I thought of was the Constitution,” he said.
Citizens are given many freedoms in this country, he read to DAR members, and all of them are given from the Constitution of the United States.
“The amendments within the Constitution are what allow us to live our lives to the fullest,” he read.
Tommy expanded on the rights given to Americans through freedom of speech and those giving African-Americans rights. He plans on becoming a math teacher after college.
Kiley Saunders plans on going into advertising or marketing. When considering her essay answer, she said she focused on the fact that being a good citizen is not a “task.”
“It is not an imposition or a burden,” she read. “Being a good citizen is a privilege and a lifestyle. It is the realization that our American heritage is special.”
Kiley said many of the ideas for her essay came from a class she took last year. She said her U.S. history teacher, Glenda Smith, taught her so much about the freedoms and responsibilities people have as U.S. citizens.
The importance of integrity, she said, came from her years on the cross-country team.
Allison Perkins has taken two years of an elective called, “Citizenship,” where she and her classmates learn the importance of being good citizens by volunteering community service hours. She has spent time volunteering at pancake breakfasts, food drives, assembling military boxes and much more.
“My grandpa, a Vietnam war veteran, showed me that giving back to our country is key to being a good citizen and person in general,” she wrote in her essay. “I decided to start volunteering as many hours as possible back to my community to show that I appreciate the freedoms my country gave to me.”
Allison wants to pursue a career in physical therapy in the future.
Lauren Galloway plans to pursue a double major in English and pre-law and eventually land a career in helping those with disabilities. In her essay, she remembered the sacrifices that went toward our freedoms.
“It is all too easy to cast a ballot or recite the Pledge of Allegiance without considering the lives that were lost and the blood that was shed to get here,” she read to the DAR members. “America began as a rag tag group of patriots who pursued the ideals of freedom, liberty and equality with fervor.”
Each student received a certificate, a pin, and a $50 scholarship.
Narvick said the chapter of DAR began in 1917. The national organization began in 1890. DAR is a not-for-profit women’s service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America’s future through education.
To become a member, applicants must show proof of linear descent from a patriot of the American Revolution. The local chapter, Narvick said, holds essay competitions each year for high school students and younger grades, in addition to making donations to the La Salle Veteran’s Home, marching in Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day parades, and sponsoring an American Indian school.
Parents of the student recipients of the Good Citizen Award are Tom and Cathy Fatigante, Christopher and Devon Saunders, Timothy and Colleen Perkins, and John and Susan Galloway.