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You may not read their names on the president’s and dean’s lists. You won’t read about their accomplishments in school gymnasiums or on the football, soccer and baseball fields. Nor accolades about their scholastic achievements.
Don’t get us wrong, these are not bad students. They are actually very good students. Many of them do play sports and are on honor rolls. While some of these A,B, C students don’t always get the recognition of their more highly skilled academic and athletic peers, they deserve it.
That is the purpose behind the Principal’s Choice Awards – to recognize students who are also good citizens. The annual awards are sponsored by the three Rotary clubs in Lancaster County. The Rotary clubs’ motto is “service above self” and the award winners reflect the Rotary’s “Four Way Test,” which deals with truth, fairness, goodwill and how service benefits others.
“A lot of these students make good grades, but good grades aren’t the qualifying requirement to get here,” said local program co-founder, host and Rotarian Bobby Bailey at this year’s ceremony. “It is about being a good person and a good citizen. And that’s what’s important.”
The students are selected by the principals from each of the 19 county schools. They were selected based on their accomplishments, not only in the classroom, but outside the classroom. Their contributions have made a positive impact on the community.
Some students faced their own adversities. One student was Ashly Campos-Gomez, a third-grader at McDonald Green Elementary School.
“When Ashly began school, she was determined not to let her language barrier deter her from achieving academic excellence,” said McDonald Green Principal Michelle Crosby. “She’s a very persistent and conscientious student, always smiling and bringing sunshine to everyone around her. She’s just a jewel.”
Jordan Hinson, a senior at Andrew Jackson High School, was recognized for his service. Jordan helped build access ramps for the elderly and worked on projects around the school – all done quietly, with no desire for recognition.
Andrew Jackson High Principal Mary Barry praised Jordan.
“To give you an idea of what Jordan does quietly,” Barry said. “Remember that snow we got earlier in the year? Guess who came down quietly to clear our parking lot? Jordan. Who wouldn’t be proud of a student who would clear a parking lot without being told?”
Included among the award-winning students were some who overcame behavioral issues, the loss of a beloved family member and debilitating illnesses. We stand in awe of how some have persevered and continue to do so.
Every student has a story and we feel sure we would be amazed at what some have experienced in their short lives. The stories of their struggles are inspiring.
We praise the students for what they’ve accomplished and cheer them on as they continue to strive for excellence. We also want to recognize those who have supported these students – the proud parents, teachers and mentors.
The collaborative effort has truly made for great citizens – now and in the future.