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were selected by their teachers and peers.

According to Award Presenter Gwen Warren, each year the local chapter of the DAR invites area schools to choose one senior to receive the award, which is selected through a vote by students and teachers. This award recognizes the students who best exemplify the qualities of good citizenship, which the DAR says are dependability, service, leadership, and patriotism. “These students are held to very high esteem by both the adults in their school and their peers,” she explained.

Once the award recipients are chosen from each school, those individuals are invited to compete in an essay contest for a scholarship. During this contest, students are given an essay topic and required to craft an essay in a two-hour time period, which is then judged by a group of outside judges.

This year’s essay topic was “Our American Heritage and Our Responsibility for Preserving It,” and it was VHA Senior Julia Beacham who took home the first place prize for her writing. Beacham read her essay during the ceremony.

“America, within the past decade, has become an unrecognizable mess from the country it once was,” Beacham read. “Riots, crime surges, and extreme inflation are just a few of the problems which citizens are facing daily. Politicians, who were once supposed to be ‘for the people,’ are now solely focused on their own gain. I think that all of this is due to the absence of proper teaching from parents and other authority figures to the future generations about the four core actions of good citizenship – dependability, service, leadership, and patriotism.” Beacham continued to explain the importance of these four core actions of good citizenship throughout her essay, explaining their absence in society today. According to Beacham, it is the responsibility of Americans to instill these qualities of good leadership into youth and those around us, so the country may begin to return to its former glory. Beacham emphasized the need for dependable workers, who show up daily for work; vocal leaders, who are unafraid to speak up when necessary; proud patriots, who treat the nation with respect; and humble servants, who serve others without looking for their own personal gain.

“I’m honored to have won the essay contest,” Beacham remarked. “I went in to the writing session, and I wrote what I thought was a really good essay. I’m glad others agreed.”

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