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Four MLCHS Students Receive Congressional Award Gold Medals

Four Martha Layne Collins High School students, Deric Senecal, Alex Satterwhite, Nathanael Sangster and Cammeron Durham, are four out of four hundred who will receive the Congressional Award for 2019. According to the Congressional Award website, “The United States Congress established The Congressional Award in 1979 to recognize initiative, service, and achievement in young people. It began as a bipartisan effort in both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives. The legislation was originally signed into law by President Jimmy Carter. Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald J. Trump have each signed continuing legislation.

In order to win the Congressional Award, students register on the website. To earn the award, the MLCHS students set goals in four Program Areas: Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness and Expedition/Exploration.  There are certificate levels and medal levels that students can attempt.

Deric Senecal said that Jim Patton with Christian Care Communities came to speak at his Scouts meeting about the “end goal” about four years ago.  He talked to the boys about the Congressional Medal and how it connected with the Boy Scouts. His message resonated with the guys. It was about setting goals and accepting a challenge.  Alex Satterwhite said, “He showed us how easy it (the gold medal) was to attain.”

Each one of the MLCHS students got to choose how he would attain the goals set forth in the program. For Physical Fitness, all of the students traveled to Philmont, New Mexico to hike and fulfill the Expedition portion of the goals. Nathanael served as a crew leader when he and Cam went in 2017. The boys recalled that they carried their own food and fuel and went through at least five liters a day of water. Deric said, “We covered 110 miles of hiking and we broke down each day how many miles we had to travel to get to the next campsite and how fast we had to go.” The challenge in Philmont was pace and to attain a certain amount of mileage per day.

Alex Satterwhite worked toward his physical fitness goal through ROTC classes while Cammeron set goals at a local gym. Nathanael enjoys cycling so he set a goal of meeting a 2 ½ minute mile on a bike. Cammeron mentioned, “We are all part of Boy Scouts of America, but our own identities helped add to our Congressional Award goal setting and experiences. You can custom it to your own interests.”  Alex Satterwhite said that the JROTC program at MLCHS helped him attain his community service goals as well.

The students reported that there is some paperwork and record keeping to help.

All of these students are active students at MLCHS and in their community.  Deric is a leader in the band and as an Eagle Scout project helped to build a sidewalk from the band room to the parking lot; Nathanael is an informational technology intern for the ATC; Alex is highly active as a leader in the Army JROTC and Cammeron plays tennis, is the first Governor elected for KYA from MLCHS, interns for Senator Hornback and serves on the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Committee. Cammeron was also chosen for the Henry Clay Statesmanship Program.

When asked if they had advice for other students who might want to accept the challenge of the Congressional Award the students offered the following:

Cammeron:  “Keep track of what you do through your high school career, community service, school activities.

Nathanael:  “Join YMCA, Scouting, ROTC.  Be involved in clubs and organizations that foster the four program areas.”

Deric: “BSA helped meet the program area goals. Don’t give up.  Set goals and work toward them. It takes a few years to meet the challenge but it can be done. If you have the resources, then go for it!”

Alex:  “Don’t give up.  The paperwork is worth it in the end!”

Alex, Deric, Nathanael and Cammeron will visit Washington, DC where Congressmen will present the 400 winners with their medals on June 19th.  They also will have the opportunity to sit on panel discussions and even attend a Nationals and Braves game.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Congressional Award, visit http://congressionalaward.org/.