At a statewide Congressional Award ceremony held Friday, Nov. 19 in Boise, 12 students from the Wood River Valley earned medals through the U.S. Congress' Congressional Award program. The recognition came for successfully achieving personal development and service related goals. One hundred and thirty students from throughout Idaho attended the ceremony.
"This is a huge honor for our kids," said Cindy Jesinger of Ketchum, who oversaw the projects of seven participants.
Wood River Valley students Amy DiFrancesco, Andrew Durtschi and Reinet Behncke earned silver and bronze medals. Lisa Feldhusen earned a silver medal. Ashley Alfs, Benjamin Luck, Benjamin Roth, Connor Wade, Eliza Krumpe, Adriana Maniere, Anneka Preston, and Chloe Thurston earned bronze medals. The bronze medal winners all set individual goals and completed 100 hours of public service, 50 hours of physical fitness, 50 hours of personal development and an overnight exploration/expedition trip to meet the goals. The silver medal demands twice the number of hours required for the bronze medal.
"In your case, in your valley, they set very high goals," Bridget Barrus, the program director from Sen. Larry Craig's office, commented.
The program requires each student to detail their goals and the outcome of their aspirations in record books that they later submit on completion of the program.
Bronze medallist Roth explained one of his goals was "To improve my overall fitness in preparation for climbing the highest and most sacred mountain in Japan, Mount Fuji, heightening my spiritual awareness while challenging myself physically.
"Despite a lot of preparatory training, the climb up the mountain was still a grueling, draining hike, and I learned that much more training is needed for comparable outings, and although it is difficult, it is well worth it."
Other participants challenged themselves through goals such as increasing proficiency playing the flute, exploring family heritage and improving acting skills.
The Congressional Award program began in 1979 as an initiative by the Congress to recognize young people for their contributions to society and personal development. According to Barrus, Idaho has the highest number of participants in the country.
"Ours is the number one program in the nation, in terms of the number of awards given each year," Barrus said.
In addition to earning awards, a group of the valley's medallists conducted the opening flag ceremony that began the statewide ceremony for students, parents and Idaho dignitaries, including First Lady Patricia Kempthorne.
"It was the first time we have had kids to it (the flag ceremony) since I have been here, it worked out perfectly," Barrus said.
During the ceremony, DiFrancesco called the commands and led the Pledge of Allegiance. Preston and Durtschi assisted by bearing the flags. Alfs, Roth, Wade and Krumpe served as the color guard. The students who participated in the flag ceremony are either members of Girl Scout Troop 611 or Boy Scout Venture Crew 611.
For more information on the Congressional Award program, contact Barrus at (208) 375-3628 or visit congressionalaward.org.