Stopping By: Teen strives to be a good citizen
AMITY — High school senior Daniel Mather tries his best to be a good citizen.
He does volunteer work with the National Honor Society at Amity High School. He also volunteers with the youth group at Salem First Baptist Church, helping with food drives, toy drives, fundraisers for ill children and so forth.
He enjoys mentoring younger students. He served as a counselor at outdoor school last year, and loved it.
Daniel tries to set a good example for his younger siblings, Jonathan, a high school sophomore; Abigail, an eighth-grader; and Michael, a fifth-grader.
And he’s planning to spend spring break on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. He’ll be part of a basketball ministry, using his favorite sport as a way to get to know local children and tell them about God.
“As a Christian, of course I want to follow Christ’s message,” he said. “I want to bless others with what I’ve been given.”
In keeping with that wish, he wears a basketball bracelet that reads, “In Jesus’ name, I play.”
His parents, David and Rebecca, serve as role models for him in return. They’ve encouraged him to help his community and excel at his school.
His efforts to help others led to his selection as Amity High’s Good Citizen of the Year.
“He is a great example of a caring, committed citizen and leader,” his teachers said. “He is a team player, reacts with a cool head under pressure and is willing to sacrifice his personal time for the good of the organizations he is involved in.”
Daniel also went on to win the countywide Good Citizen contest, sponsored by Yamhill Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution. Now in the running for regional honors, he received a cash award, certificate and pin at the DAR’s February luncheon last week.
The DAR also honored four other school-level winners: Junior Bautista of McMinnville High, Daniel Pagonis of Yamhill-Carlton High; Kaylie Holland of Dayton High; and Kathrine Morris of Willamina High School.
They were chosen for their community service, school participation, academic record and leadership qualities, according to Carolyn Meeker, chair of the annual contest. She said the DAR looks for Good Citizens who are dependable, cooperative and courteous, and patriotic, “which includes unselfish interest in family, community and nation to an outstanding degree.”
As part of the DAR requirements, each entrant had an hour to write an essay addressing the topic, “Our American Heritage and Our Responsibility for Preserving It: How do the actions of good citizens keep our nation moving forward?”
Daniel focused on volunteerism, noting how volunteers such as his ASPIRE mentor, have helped him. “When people take the time to use their skills and resources to help others, it displays the ind of dedicated service that makes Americans special,” he wrote.
His essay, written last fall, noted the political strife across the country. No matter the outcome of the election, he wrote, “the combined selfless acts of American citizens keep our country united and constantly moving toward the future ... our country has a long and rich history of amazing people devoting themselves to making this country better.
“In times like these,” he continued, “ we shouldn’t be depending on our government for all the answers. We should look to each other and rely on friends and neighbors for hope and reassurance. The many actions of faithful Americans every day preserves our heritage and helps our country be the driving force of the future.”
Daniel’s own immediate future includes choosing a college. He is considering George Fox University in Newberg and Oregon State University in Corvallis.
Both have good programs in engineering. He’s hoping for a scholarship, and if he attends OSU, an internship.
He wants to study mechanical engineering. “I enjoy buildings things and taking things apart to see how they work,” said Daniel, who is building a working model of a Roman aqueduct for his senior project.
He said his dream job would involve “designing an engine for the next sports car, or for Ford ... creating a new way for pistons to work more efficiently.”
He’s near the top of his class at AHS, and has “stellar” SAT scores, his teachers said. They said, “It is significant that Daniel has attained this impressive level of academic achievement while taking some of the most challenging classes that our school offers.”
In addition to induction into the National Honor Society, Daniel has earned honors in history, physics, global studies and algebra. A basketball player and cross country runner, he won a scholar-athlete award and the President’s Volunteer Service Award.
His favorite course is calculus, he said, but he also enjoys history. He is especially interested in the Civil War era, and likes reading about the generals of that period.
When he’s not studying or engaging in community service, Daniel likes building with Legos and playing paintball or video games. He also loves playing with his younger siblings.
“As the oldest, I know they look to me,” he said. “I want to set a good tone.”