02/23/04 — Three Wayne youths get Congressional awards

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Three Wayne youths get Congressional awards

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on February 23, 2004 1:56 PM

Three Wayne County youths received Congressional Awards Thursday at a ceremony at the Wayne Center. They were Jonathan Stutts, Sarah Finch and Kate Nichols.

Presenting the awards was Congressman Walter Jones.

The Congressional Award is a public-private partnership created by Congress to promote and recognize achievement, initiative and service in America's youths ages 14 to 23.

Jones said it provides a unique opportunity for young people to set and achieve challenging goals that build character and foster community service, personal development and citizenship.

To earn the award, youths must set and achieve goals in four areas -- voluntary public service, physical fitness, personal development and expeditions.

A young person is not selected to receive the award; he or she earns it.

There are three levels of the award -- bronze, silver and gold.

Stutts, Miss Finch and Miss Nichols were three of 19 youths in North Carolina to earn a Congressional Award this year.

Stutts, 16, a home-schooler, the Silver Congressional Award medal. He went on a 24-mile hiking trip to the Uwharrie National Forest as part of his requirements.

"Most of my stuff I did through 4-H," Stutts said. "I taught different curriculum through Teens Reaching Youths."

He worked on this award for about 1 1/2 years. "Someone told me about the award a few years ago and it interested me," he said. "I was already doing a lot of the requirements. And I love doing community service. It brings me joy to go out and help others."

Miss Finch, 18, is also a home-schooler. She received the Gold Congressional Award medal.

She volunteered at nursing homes and did activities with 4-H. "4-H has given me many opportunities to do presentations, public speaking and teaching," she said.

"I know that by receiving this award I can apply for a lot more scholarships for college," Miss Finch said. "I also wanted to set a goal and try and achieve it and the Congressional Award has been a good way to do that."

She said she was "very excited to receive the award. I can't believe it's happening."

Miss Nichols, 16, attends Charles B. Aycock High School. She received the Silver Congressional Award medal.

"Community service was my favorite," she said. "I entertained at local events and civic functions. I shelved books at the library and helped with story time."

She joined her school swim for the physical fitness requirements. "My goal was to improve my 100-yard freestyle event by three seconds," she said. "I improved that by at least five seconds."

Miss Nichols also joined the school's Show Choir and performed with it at various banquets and school functions. In addition, she planned a trip to the Smithsonian Institute and took her family.

She said the award is a "great way to do personal development. I feel great, privileged, honored to receive the award. I couldn't do it without my family, my teachers and advisors at school and my community."

Jones said what these three young people have achieved is "very, very impressive."

He said the Congressional Award program is an excellent program and he wished more children would get involved in it. "It says a lot about the young person," he said. "They are very special and they've worked hard for it."