Madison (Madi) Henry ’19 of South Glastonbury earned the Congressional Award for her community service and commitment to personal growth. John Larson, the U.S. Representative for Connecticut's first congressional district, serving since 1999, presented Henry the award. Henry's family and friends, Head of School Dennis Bisgaard, several teachers and advisors were on hand when Henry received the award.
Each year over 50,000 students apply to have the medal bestowed upon them, however, very few are selected for this honor. Larson said in his 20 years serving as a representative, this was only the second time that he presented the award. He said, “This award is all on the shoulders of Madi. She was always doing something extra, volunteering, tutoring, teaching and giving of herself. This is an incredible honor.”
To earn this award, Henry had to set goals in four areas of her life and commit hours to achieving those goals within a 12 month period. She racked up 200 hours of volunteer hours working eight hours a day during the summer at Jamestown Sea Adventure Camp in Jamestown, Rhode Island, a camp with an emphasis on sailing and marine biology, working with four and five-year-olds. She said, “It takes some patience with children that age, but I love to work with them. They are always so open to learning, and they make you so excited about everything.” Another significant part of her volunteering hours was spent in Tobati, Paraguay as part of KO’s service learning trip during the spring break. While in Tobati the students build roads and buildings and work in the fields for the local community. She said the experience allows one to gain perspective and become thankful for what you have.
Another area that Henry had to commit to was physical activity. As a key member of the volleyball and basketball teams, Henry easily hit the 100-hour requirement.
Additionally, Henry became proficient in filming on a GoPro camera to achieve the personal requirement for the medal. She admitted that the software of the camera was challenging, but she was able to master the device with plenty of persistence. Henry documents her sailing adventures on a Hobie catamaran with her GoPro. Her sailing exploits build confidence, leadership, and skills. She recognizes the importance of taking precautions when sailing and duly notes the weather conditions prior to hitting the waves.
Lastly, to achieve the exploration segment for the award, which consisted of a three-day stint, Henry spent time at a dairy farm in Vermont and learned how to milk the cows. Henry went through the daily routine of farm living and saw firsthand the arduous process.
After Henry achieved all the markers for the award, she submitted her paperwork to the organization in D.C. An administrator contacted Henry to verify that her information was truthful and intact. Since the award is cumulative, Henry is already earning hours towards a gold medal. Her service trip to Tobati this spring confirms her status for a gold medal to be awarded next year.
The Congressional Award Program website states that “the Award offers young people the opportunity to set a personal goal and achieve it. Along the way, you will learn about yourself and about qualities like responsibility, trust and the ability to plan and organize.” Congressman Larson noted that less than one percent of our nation's population is involved in service to this country, and this award is a means to get young people involved in their communities. He said, "This nation is in dire need of citizens to step forward and to put their community above self."
Way to give back to your community, Madi!