Three more names have been added to the Good Citizen Award list.
The Fort Massac Chapter, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, honored high school students in the area at its meeting on Saturday, March 26.
Rachelle Cox of Joppa High School, Shantell Tompkins of Meridian High School and Kelis Adams of Massac County High School received the Good Citizen Award, each receiving a certificate, lapel pin and scholarship.
“Today has always been a popular get-together for us,” said Rita Park, chair of the awards committee.
Nationally, the DAR established the Good Citizens Award and Scholarship Contest in 1934. The Fort Massac chapter awarded its first in 1965. The chapter’s second was to Janet Maggio, a graduate of Metropolis High School in 1966 and is now a member of the DAR and the co-chairman of the Good Citizen Award committee.
“It’s a long tradition that you’re all a part of this morning,” Park told the honorees. “Each year we work with these students and get a little insight into their lives. They give us a lot of hope.
Cox is the daughter of Reggie and Karen Cox of Karnak. She plans to attend Southeast Missouri State University to study communication disorders and later become a speech pathologist.
Tompkins is the daughter of Crystal Edwards of Mounds. In addition to her high school education and activities, she is also completing her second year at Shawnee Community College. She plans to become a fashion designer.
Adams is the daughter of Chris and Kara Adams of Metropolis. Although she hasn’t decided to go to college, she plans to major in exercise science with a focus on athletic training.
The Good Citizen Award and Scholarship Competition aims to encourage and reward the qualities of a good citizen – reliability (truthfulness, loyalty, trustworthiness, punctuality); service (cooperation, courtesy, contribution to the welfare of others); leadership (personality, self-control, ability to take responsibility, ability to inspire others, decision-maker); and patriotism (devotion to and support of one’s country, support of service members and veterans, work for causes that strengthen one’s community, and appreciation of the cultural and historical significance of America’s unique people).
“Being a good citizen is more than getting good grades. It’s not a scholarship,” Park said.
Students are selected by their schools and go through a two-part assignment. The first part describes how he or she tried to manifest the qualities of a good citizen. This part can be completed at home and is submitted with a transcript and two letters of recommendation. The second part is a timed essay administered under the supervision of a faculty member or DAR. It must be completed in one sitting within two hours and without assistance or reference material. Each contest entry is evaluated by independent, non-DAR judges. The winning entry is advanced by local, district, state and national judging levels.
“One thing that’s not apparent is that they’re not given the topic in advance,” noted Park, who has chaired the awards committee since 2016. ‘school, given the topic and off the cuff they write their essay – they can’t use references, it’s from the heart. I think it’s such a challenge and quite an achievement. I don’t know if I could do it. I have so much respect for their impromptu essay.
Cox’s essay was sent to the district level.
“We’re very proud of that,” Park said.
The students wrote their essays in October. At Saturday’s meeting, they were asked to read them to the chapter and family members present. Their quick question for the essay was, “How do the qualities of a good citizen—reliability, service, leadership, and patriotism—help sustain our nation?”
In part, Cox wrote, “To help sustain our nation, we need workers who are reliable and who will work their best. … (As regards service,) without volunteers, this nation would not be as prosperous as it is. Helping others can make our nation one. … Patriotism is being proud of this amazing country you live in. A good citizen respects his country and the people who fought for our freedoms. We have our freedoms thanks to the men and women who fought for our country of their own free will and risked their lives to give us those freedoms. These people have shown that freedom is not free. What an amazing nation we live in to have citizens of the United States fighting for the freedoms of other citizens, some of whom will never meet.
Cox said that when she was brought in to write the essay, she was really nervous. But after reading the prompt, “the first thing I thought of was my grandfather because he fought in the war and he has all these qualities,” she said. “I thought about how he gave me those qualities, and that gave me the strength and the courage to write this essay.”
Tompkins said writing her essay was at the last minute, so she had to think about it quickly. “I thought about my ideas of the one they gave us to do at home,” she said.
Tompkins wrote that “the role of a citizen is one of the many parts that make up a model character. We are not just the people, but the heart of our nation. Our nation is not only our home, but it is part of us. …Through the good and the bad, showing that we stand together is what makes us strong. It gives hope and inspiration by proving that we are united. … By showing our patriotism, we are showing love. We protect the honor of our nation. It helps build a sense of identity. … Patriotism unites us. We put our differences aside to help our nation. …Being an active and involved citizen is the best way to support our country and keep it strong.
Adams had an idea of what the subject of the essay might turn to, “so I had kind of prepared myself for the attributes of a good citizen. When it was time to write and I saw the prompt, I felt quite confident.
Adams explained how “the qualities of good citizens continue to make the United States an unrelenting force. … The qualities of good citizens are summed up in four essential traits — reliability, service, leadership and patriotism: without them, the nation as we know it would cease to exist. As citizens of the same country, it’s important to remember the importance of being there for each other, because in the end, we will either thrive or fail together. … Patriotism is possessing the desire for your country to be the best version of itself, whether that means voting or even protesting, because in times of change that is when true patriotism comes out. What’s more patriotic than using your voice in actions your nation has given you the right to?
The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution promotes the historical preservation, education, patriotism, and honor of Revolutionary War patriots. For more information about the Fort Massac Chapter, visit ildar.org/chapters/fortmassac/about-us.html.