Terra Scranton of QHS named recipient of the Youth of the Year Scholarship

Youth of the Year 2014

QHS Principal Danielle Edgar and Counselor Mindy Jackson, Terra Scranton and her parents Rick and Pam Thurman (left to right)

Dr. Lenny Biallas of the Exchange Club of Quincy presented the 24th Annual Youth of the Year Award to Terra Scranton of Quincy Senior High School.
Terra wrote the winning essay, based on the National Exchange Club’s theme – Parading the Spirit of Community Service with Passion and Commitment – to win the award and as a result she will get a $1,000 scholarship and will represent our Club in the District competition. Terra plans on attending the University of Illinois at Champaign and eventually will attend medical school. Her parents, Rick and Pam Thurman, were on hand along with QHS Principal Danielle Edger and Counselor Mindy Jackson.

Here is Terra’s winning essay:

The difference between commitment and requirement is one that few people learn in their lifetime. They tell themselves that they are committed to an activity when, in all actuality, they are simply doing it to meet their service hour requirements or avoid reprimand by family and friends. In order to be truly com mitted to something, you must have pride in it and do it not because you feel as though you have to do it, but because you want to do it. The passion exhibited will shine through in work completed and will be felt by those impacted through good deeds done. Dedicating yourself to the service of others, whether it is with donations of food and supplies, spiritual guidance, or simply your time and energy, creates a lasting impact that strengthens families, com m unities, and our country as a whole. That spirit should be everlasting and never forgotten.

No matter where you go, you can always lend a hand to those in need. It doesn’t matter whether or not you belong to a community or family; the potential you have to change lives is constant. I can recall becoming a part of the community service organizations at my school. Beta Club, National Honor Society, and Key Club became a reminder to me that our community is a struggling one. I wasn’t aware of this because I wasn’t exposed to it directly. Prior to high school, each canned food drive and fundraiser was made to be a game. The class who donates or collects the most wins a party of some sort. It didn’t matter to us children for what we were raising money and collecting supplies. Now, I realize the lasting effect that these collections can have and that needs to be taught to younger children in order to create a sense of community within them. They don’t understand the difference that they’re making and the potential they have to change a life. I have learned that these drives benefit people I know and that knowledge creates pride in what I do to help a classmate or fellow community member. I have that sense of responsibility to better someone else’s life, who isn’t necessarily a stranger. Younger children need to know that they have the potential to change a life for the better in order to develop pride and think of community service as something other than a game.

Community service isn’t just giving away money and food, however. It could be something as simple as playing a game with a child when al l they’re going to do is wait after school for an hour because both of their parents work full-time or aren’t completely present in their life. It could be visiting an elderly person who lives alone and has no immediate family to visit them frequently. Community service is anything that works to make a difference in someone else’s life. Anyone can give themselves to another person, family, or group in order to better their education, health, or circumstance. It takes drive within a person to make it a common occurrence. Loving the service that one does will make it easy for activities to remain consistent. In programs such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters, it is important to return each week in order to maintain a close relationship with a child being assisted by the program. By demonstrating dedication through reliability, you can influence other people. They will want to be more dedicated as well and those people that you are directly helping will feel as though they truly matter to you, which increases self-confidence and life outlook, especially in small children.

It is of utmost importance that youth prevent ion takes place in our community and this country as a whole. With toxic environments everywhere, children can fall prey to gang activity, drugs, and crime because they want to feel like they belong to a group. Pre-teens and young adults need to step up and form bonds with children and their peers in a positive manner so that a life isn’t damaged due to destructive relationships and activities. If only a few people would reach out to their peers and assist them with their family, school, and social lives, we could become a more educated, safe, and happy community. Getting involved with children can aid their families as well. By exposing the youth to cooperation, communication, and other beneficial techniques, they can pass on what they learn to their families, which can strengthen bonds and alleviate conflict. Strong families make for strong com munities.

Those who are helped and see the passion exhibited towards them are more likely to give the same amount of effort into their works in the future. It is a cycle that, once started, should continue building and restoring com m unities and families across the nation through physical, spiritual, and emotional support.

Building families and com munities allow for a stronger country. To continue the ideals of democracy and freedom, adults and youth alike must know that they are available. This is why people need to promote education and political involvement. Spreading passion about the many choices that we have in this country is important because we will always need future leaders to govern it. If they know and feel as though they have the same rights and oppo1tunities as everyone else, provided that they work to their fullest potential, they will be more likely to involve themselves in large and small governments, nationally and locally. A knowledgeable community is a strong one, where diverse opinions are put forth and no one is oppressed due to gender, race, or religion. By demonstrating this idea of freedom for any type of person, we can create a more balanced system that everyone can flourish in. Not all forms of community service require physical items; simply presenting ideals to others can benefit the community and country as a whole.

Passion runs the world. No matter how small an effort may seem the effects can be tremendous and continuous. By keeping a determined and helpful spirit maintained, one person can affect families and communities across the country with the spread of goods, ideals, and contagious passion. A community service commitment is not something to be forced, but to be desired and strived for in the heart of each person.