ST. GEORGE — Five young women representing five different high schools in Washington County were honored by the Daughters of the American Revolution Color Country Chapter on Tuesday for being good citizens and patriots of the country.
The 2020 DAR Good Citizens Awards were presented to the high school students who participated in the scholarship program which was judged on a variety of criteria including the students’ dependability (truthfulness, honesty and punctuality), service (cooperation, helpfulness and responsibility), leadership (personality, self-control and initiative) and patriotism (unselfish loyalty to American ideals).
Students were nominated to participate by a teacher or administrator at their school; after which, they had to complete an application detailing how they meet and have met the criteria throughout their high school career, turn in their transcripts along with two letters of recommendation and complete a 500-word essay in a two-hour period.
Students were not given the topic of the essay until they sat down to write it and the only tool they were allowed to use was a dictionary if they so choose, said Julie Molen.
Molen is the DAR Color Country Chapter Vice Regent and oversaw the Good Citizens Award program.
The topic of the essay was “Our American Heritage and Our Responsibility for Preserving It.” Under that topic, the students were given the following prompt:
How do the combined actions of so many good citizens keep our nation moving forward?
Alexa Hench, a senior at Pine View High School and participant in the Good Citizens Award program said the essay’s topic helped her to focus on how she, as a citizen, and how ordinary citizens can contribute to where they live.
“The essay prompt was perfectly timed for this year because we’ve had so many different events in the past year that have really been more about the citizens and not just big political leaders,” Hench said.
Essays were adjudicated by a panel of three qualified judges who were chosen by Molen, all who were very well-versed in writing and American government, Molen said.
For Molen, the most striking thing about the participants was learning about their community involvement and desire to express what it means to be a good citizen.
“I’m glad to see that we still have a lot of young people that feel that way,” Molen said.
Four participants, including Hench, received cash prizes of $50 from the DAR chapter.
One winner, Jana Nassar, a senior at Desert Hills High School received a $100 cash prize and had her essay forwarded to the state level.
Nassar’s essay spoke about the power of the American citizen and how exercising the First Amendment right to petition the government for change is one of the most powerful tools that Americans can and should utilize.
Nassar was recommended to participate in the award program by her history teacher because of what she was told was her unique outlook on how America is.
Nassar was born in Egypt and immigrated to the United States when she was 7-years-old, she said.
Using the essay prompt as her guide, Nassar wrote on how it is the people of the country – and not the government – that make the country progress.
Everything from emancipation to women’s suffrage, Nassar said, was driven by the citizens.
“I strongly believe that the United States of America is this living and breathing entity that is constantly growing and changing,” Nassar said quoting her essay and adding that she recognizes that it is the people that continue to push America forward and put pressure on the government when change is necessary.
An excerpt from her essay which she recited after receiving the award said the following:
America is built on the concept of growth which is why it is up to each American individual – you and me – to uphold the responsibility of progress …
With divided political factions and a seemingly divided people, the responsibility of pushing for change is more important than ever.
After high school graduation, Nassar hopes to pursue a career path that will lead her to congress, she said. She has applied to Harvard University, among other schools, and will know in the spring if she is accepted. Her essay is currently at the state level where, if she wins, it will be forwarded to the district level and potentially all the way to the national level.
Two national winners will receive a $5,000 scholarship.
The five students who received Good Citizens Awards were:
- Emmaline Heck – Tuacahn High School.
- Sarah McCammon – Crimson Cliffs High School.
- Jana Nassar – Desert Hills High School.
- Alexa Hench – Pine View High School.
- Tymberlee Oliphant – Hurricane High School.
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