By Debbie Adams
Grace Saunders, a senior at William Byrd High School, has been named as the DAR Good Citizen of the year for 2022. The announcement was made at the Roanoke Valley Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution meeting on March 12.
The DAR Good Citizen program is intended to encourage and reward the qualities of good citizenship. It is open to all senior class students. The award recognizes individuals who possess qualities of dependability, service, leadership, and patriotism to an outstanding degree in their homes, schools, and communities.
Each year the DAR Good Citizen is nominated by the faculty; then the senior class votes on the top three students. Only one student is chosen for this prestigious honor.
Once a student is chosen as the DAR Good Citizen, they are then invited to participate in the scholarship portion of the program and write an essay on a topic involving “Our American Heritage and Our Responsibility for Preserving It.”
Students are given an hour to write their essay (limited to 550 words), responding to a prompt they receive sight unseen. Those who win at the district level advance to state competition.
In addition to the recognition, DAR Good Citizens receive a certificate, pin, and monetary award.
WBHS Principal Tammy Newcomb says Saunders is one of the school’s top students—“she is kind to everyone and a very conscientious student.”
Saunders will be receiving an Advanced Studies Diploma at graduation ceremonies in May 2022. In addition to being a student at WBHS, she has also attended the Burton Center for Arts and Technology (BCAT) STEM Academy for Engineering (in grades 9-12), studying in a specialized curriculum centered on engineering. She has gained Programming experience at BCAT using MATLAB and AutoCAD software systems. She has created and executed full programs and self-programmed laser-engraving, 3D-printing, and router technologies. Saunders also earned OSHA Certification at BCAT and completed a four-week Toastmasters public speaking class as part of the STEM Academy.
Other academic honors include: serving as a Junior Marshall—based on grade point average and demonstration of “exemplary character” during the 2020-21 school year; being chosen as a member of the BETA Club for her GPA average of 3.5 or above; receiving Language Honors upon the completion of five years of Spanish in May; and being named as an AP Scholar for earning scores of 3 and above on 3+ AP tests.
During her high school years at WBHS, Saunders has been involved with many school and extracurricular activities. She was elected by her peers last year as the Class Council president and as Vice President this year. She participated in planning class-related activities such as homecoming and prom.
She has been a member of the SCA in her junior and senior years, serving as an officer during her senior year.
Saunders has been a member of the Academic Team in her junior and senior years, and a member of the Marching Terriers band in her freshman and sophomore years (playing trombone).
She was a member of the Outdoor Track and Field Team during her freshman and sophomore years and a member of the Indoor Track and Field Team in tenth grade. She has been a member of the Tennis team in her junior and senior years.
Other activities include volunteering at Penn Forest Remedial Summer Camp in the summer of 2021, assisting elementary-age students with STEM activities, reading, and recess, including working with children with disabilities. She has been a member of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church since she was 11 years old where she has served as an acolyte and usher.
Her hobbies include baking, reading, painting, and writing.
“In my life, I have always strived to make a positive impact on those around me, whether through simple acts of kindness or through continuous acts of service,” said Saunders. “I have continuously sought out membership and leadership in organizations that I felt could help me make a difference: Girl Scouts in elementary and middle school, and student and class activities in high school.”
“Following my graduation from William Byrd High School, I plan to continue my studies (pending acceptance) at one of several institutions, including the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary, or Duke University.”
Saunders says she would like to pursue a double-major as an undergraduate possibly in chemistry, economics, and global relations or global business, with the possible inclusion of a minor in Spanish.
“I would like to study abroad, as I feel that living and studying in another country may widen my perspective on the world and allow me a better understanding of diversity and global interaction,” Saunders said.
She would like to eventually earn a graduate degree in the career field she ultimately selects.
Saunders is the daughter of Heath and Dawn Saunders.
DAR Good Citizen Essay by Grace Saunders, DAR Good Citizen for 2022
DAR Good Citizen Award winner for 2022, Grace Saunders, was required to write an essay to participate in the scholarship portion of the DAR Good Citizen process. The assigned topic (given sight unseen and limited to 550 words) was “Our American Heritage and Our Responsibility for Preserving It” with the prompt: “How do the qualities of a good citizen (dependability, service, leadership, and patriotism) help support our nation?”
Here is her essay:
Defining our American heritage begins with defining America’s citizens. Our nation sits upon a foundation of belief: belief in liberty, in unity, in public service, and in national pride. This foundation was built by the hands of our nation’s citizens and the values, beliefs, and qualities that they all share.
America’s democratic and patriotic core may be in its people, but the peoples’ core is in the characteristics as citizens and the values they support. In this way, the characteristics of each and every citizen have established our national heritage and have continued to support our nation.
Because of that dependability, commitment to service, capacity for leadership, and love of country that America’s citizens have continued to exhibit throughout history, America was allowed to grow and flourish. The significance of the American people to the strength of the country is why the qualities of a good citizen are so integral to supporting our nation—when people demonstrate these characteristics, the foundation of the country is strengthened.
To begin, the democratic structure of our country would not function without the dependability of its citizens. Because our people can be relied upon to turn out to the polling place on Election Day, the democracy is strengthened through the sounds of peoples’ voices, melding together to make one great American sound.
Further, the people understand the necessity of dependability—in times of crisis, the American people will flood into where they are needed and can be trusted to do so without condition, as seen throughout history as American soldiers have continuously and dependably put their lives on the line so that our country may prosper.
Building upon our people’s dependability is the commitment to service. Our people will not only come when called but will come in service of their belief in the greater good. As we have seen time and time again, the American people have chosen to serve their country in more ways than can be counted. Whether through military service, supporting the nation’s economy, or through simply casting a ballot, the American people always choose service in the name of the greater good.
Our people’s dependability and commitment to service build into a great capacity for leadership. Because they can be depended upon to serve the greater good, the American people have a unique capacity for leadership, further strengthening our nation’s democratic structure. Since our country’s inception, the citizens have stepped forward into positions of leadership so that our country may prosper under true American strength—strength built upon the people and spearheaded by the Americans they have chosen to represent their beliefs and values. Because of the American capacity for leadership, our country has continued to be led by individuals that the people can rally around.
Finally, the patriotism of America’s citizens combines all of these. Patriotism means the people can be depended upon to lead in service of the country. A true Patriot not only believes in the red, white, and blue, but also shows the characteristics that make a citizen strong.
Demonstrating the qualities of a good citizen uplifts the American people, and by extension, uplifts our nation. These qualities support the America that we know and will continue to strengthen our nation as we move forward into the next chapter of our history.