High school student wins DAR award, participates in community

IMG_2429By News Editor: Kayla McClain

Howell High School senior Kaitlynn Cortez has been immensely involved in the local community and recently won a good citizen award from the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution).

The DAR is an organization that supports patriotism and has been searching out honorable students for them to receive special recognition in their citizen participation. Selected out of HHS, Cortez was the DAR good citizen recipient based on her community service involvement and outstanding academic achievement. The rewards consisted of a certificate, a $25 scholarship, and a sense of fulfilling accomplishment.

“It’s a real honor to have this award,” Cortez says.

The process of applying for the award was anything but short and sweet. When she discovered the award, Cortez wrote an essay in a two hour time slot in guidance office. The topic, relating to citizenship, was about heritage, and how it can affect patriotism. Then she had to turn in her official transcripts and résumé to DAR. This November, the school office was happy to inform her that she won.

After that was when she attended a banquet on a Saturday afternoon and read her essay aloud to the Livingston County Chapter of DAR. Other students from the county were recipients of the award, as well. Winners from Hartland High School, Brighton High School, and Pinckney High School took in part in the banquet as well.

“Seeing the other winners at the banquet was pretty cool,” Cortez says. “We talked and we still keep in touch.” One of them came to see her in the HHS musical production, Footloose, where she was one of the Bobettes.

“My friends were really excited for me, and my family came to the banquet with me. They have been there with me to experience all of this,” Cortez says.

She has had support not just from her friends and family, but Principal Jason Schrock is a huge supporter of the DAR, and was thrilled when he discovered a student won.

“It’s definitely deserving,” Mr. Schrock says. “And they couldn’t have chosen a better student.”

Although the title states “Daughters of American Revolution”, this organization is not only for women. Men can be involved and win, too, as it was proven last year in 2012 when Mr. Mark Oglesby received a teacher’s recognition award.

Mr. Oglesby was a beloved teacher at HHS who taught history and government courses, and was a major asset to the We The People program in the school. During his time, he won the award and Mr. Schrock was also delighted knowing a teacher was recognized. However, after that school year was over, Mr. Oglesby moved to Dallas, Texas, and HHS sadly had to part without him.

“I was able to attend the award banquet last year with Mr. Oglesby,” Mr. Schrock says. “A few community members were there, as well. It’s amazing what they do.”

At the start of this school year, the We The People program got a different teacher. Cortez was a part of the program last year with Mr. Oglesby, and is a member again this year.

“We The People is great. You learn a lot of information about the country,” Cortez says. “It’s a lot of studying and writing, which probably helped my skills in writing that essay for the award. It’s definitely different without Mr. O, but I still like the program.”

As for now, there are no other upcoming events or banquets that Cortez has to attend, but she is still looking at her future. While she works in the community, she is going to put her award to use. “I have to go back and put it on all of my college applications now,” Cortez chuckles.