Taking good citizenship to heart
Eliza Hallett has a lot of fun in her activities at McMinnville High School, and there are many, ranging from Ultimate Frisbee to Model United Nations.
But having fun isn’t her only motivation, the senior said. Her activities keep her in touch with friends and make her feel more connected to her school.
Besides, many of them, such as organizing this year’s Mr. Mac High contest, have a serious purpose. “I get a lot of satisfaction from knowing I’m doing things that help other people,” she said.
Eliza’s numerous service, academic and extracurricular activities helped earn her nomination as Mac High’s candidate in the local Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen award program this year.
As the school winner, she wrote an essay on “Our American Heritage and Our Responsibility for Preserving It.” As a result, she was named Yamhill Chapter’s 2013 Good Citizen winner, and is now competing for regional honors.
Eliza was surprised and pleased when her name was announced at the DAR meeting this month. She said the other school winners — Katie Wilson of Amity High, Brook Wilson of Willamina High and Molly Martinez of Sheridan High — were very deserving.
“I just felt honored to be nominated,” she said. “I feel proud that others see me as embodying the Good Citizen ideals.”
In her essay, Eliza addressed the question, “How are our freedoms and responsibilities as good citizens changing?”
She noted the increasing diversity of our nation and our increasing connection to the rest of the world. But neither fact takes away from our need to protect our national identity, she wrote.
We shouldn’t take lightly our freedom to hold our own opinions and make our own decisions, she wrote. “Although blessed with the option of only listening to a specific news source, good citizens are responsible for gathering information from multiple sources and making informed judgments,” she wrote.
Americans should learn about the rest of the world, Eliza wrote. And we should learn about and participate in our own community and nation, she added, quoting John F. Kennedy’s line, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
“To me, this is the essence of a good citizen,” she wrote. “Doing all I can in my own community will lead to a strong and unified national identity. That is truly our perpetual job as Americans.”
Eliza, the daughter of Joy and David Hallett, has lived in McMinnville since infancy. She has a younger sister, Lillian, who is a freshman at Mac High.
Since she started high school, Eliza has been involved with the school leadership program, Habitat for Humanity Club, Environmental Club, Key Club and National Honor Society. She has also participated in track and cross country.
Outside school, she has been on the YAHOO mission to build houses in Mexico and been active in the youth group at the First Baptist Church. She also works at Red Fox Bakery.
She served as assistant director of the Mr. Mac High pageant for two years before becoming the director this year. She feels privileged to be involved with the contest, because it raises thousands of dollars for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.
“I had less of an appreciation for where the money went before I visited the hospital,” she said. “Going there was really eye-opening.”
She’s impressed with Doernbecher, she said, because it is designed to make children feel more at home while they are being treated. “It makes it more welcoming and less scary for kids,” she said.
Traveling to Nicaragua with other students from a Chemeketa Community College class also gave her a new perspective.
Her father, who works for Chemeketa, went along. “It was cool to do something with my dad,” she said.
The Oregon visitors helped the AMOS Health and Hope organization, which works to empower local people to help themselves. Eliza, who speaks Spanish, spoke with local families in addition to testing children for anemia.
It was both humbling and exciting, she said, noting, “It made me feel like I can be part of something.”
The trip, which she will repeat this year, also helped focus her career interests on public health. “You can help so many people this way,” she said.
Eliza plans to attend college next year — possibly the University of Oregon’s Honors College. She said she wants to learn about international community development in addition to majoring in biology or a related field.
After she receives her undergraduate degree, she said, she may join AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps.
“I love to travel,” she said. “I can’t think of a better way to do that than be going somewhere to help people.”
Starla Pointer, who is convinced everyone has an interesting story to tell, has been writing the weekly “Stopping By” column since 1996. She’s always looking for suggestions. Contact her at 503-687-1263 or email@example.com.
THREE OTHERS JOIN HALLETT AS HONOREES
The Yamhill Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution presented awards to four high school seniors who were school winners of its annual Good Citizen contest.
The DAR chapter invited all area high schools to participate by nominating a winner who demonstrates dependability, service, leadership and patriotism. School winners compete in the countywide contest, in which they are judged on the basis of their participation in school and community activities, academics and an essay about “Our American Heritage and Our Responsibility for Preserving It.”
This year’s school winners are:
Katie Wilson, daughter of Kristi and Robert Wilson, was nominated for the honor by her teachers at Amity High School.
She is involved in band, robotics, Ecology Club, National Honor Society and leadership activities, and has played volleyball and golf at Amity High. She plans to attend college next year and become a high school teacher, then a college professor.
Brook Wilson, daughter of Barry and Brenda Wilson, represented Willamina High School. She has been involved in FFA, NHS, student leadership and sports, including volleyball, basketball, track and field, soccer and softball.
After college, Brook plans to become a pediatric nurse.
Molly Martinez, daughter of Lynn and Aaron Martinez, was Sheridan High School’s winner. Active in FFA, she has helped with Food for All and Christmas food box giveaways, worked in the SHS concession stand and volunteered at the James2 soup kitchen. She has been to Mexico on a mission trip to build houses.
Eliza Hallett, daughter of Joy and David Hallett, represented McMinnville High School. She is active in numerous clubs and organizations at Mac High and has traveled to Mexico and Nicaragua with assistance programs. She is interested in international medical work.
Hallett also was named the overall winner, becoming the Yamhill County Good Citizen of 2013.