Local News

Local high-schooler earns Congressional Gold Medal

SEBRING - Scout Royce, a senior in Sebring High School's International Baccalaureate program, was presented the Congressional Gold Medal by Congressman Patrick Murphy during a ceremony March 9 in Palm Beach Gardens.

Royce, who lives in Lake Placid, was presented the medal for her three-and-half-years of work and volunteerism within the three tiered Congressional Award programs.

The Congressional Award is a public-private partnership created by the United States Congress in 1979 to promote and recognize achievement, initiative and service in America's youth, ages 14 to 23.

The Congressional Award provides a unique opportunity for young people to set and achieve personally challenging goals that build character and foster community service, personal development and citizenship. The Congressional Award is Congress' first and only award specifically for youth.

The Congressional Award recognizes the setting and meeting of goals in four program areas: voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness and expedition/exploration. Based on time commitments to each of the areas, participants earn Bronze, Silver or Gold Congressional Award Certificates; and Bronze, Silver or Gold Congressional Award Medals. All young people are equally able to earn the Congressional Award because goals are set based on individual interest, need and ability.

In order to progress through the program, and ultimately earn the Gold Medal, participants must have performed over 400 hours of public or community service, and over 200 hours of both personal development and physical fitness activities each. The recipient will have also planned and executed three different personal learning and development expeditions or explorations that encompass at least 12-13 days and nights, so this is a very intensive program to complete.

"Receiving a Congressional Award requires tremendous dedication and effort," said Congressman Murphy. "A young person is not selected to receive the Congressional Award; he or she earns it. The Congressional Award program encourages students to excel and to give back to their communities. The program goals they are required to achieve foster character building, community service, personal development, and engaged citizenship. The students who earn Congressional Awards are without a doubt the future leaders of this country. I'm very proud of Scout Royce for setting lofty goals for her future and for participating in this challenging program."

Royce feels that the program has "encouraged me to do things and go places that I might not have otherwise, while inspiring me to take on other personal development opportunities such as interning with a University of Florida leadership program and representing Highlands County as a delegate at Florida Girls State. It has helped open my eyes to all of the possibilities out there in the world for me."

Royce is now looking forward to finishing the school year, graduating on May 31, and starting her collegiate career at the University of Florida. She says she is proud that she has been able to obtain many of her high school goals, such as completing the Congressional program, being involved in a number of Sebring High School organizations, participating on the school's "A Team" and graduating as the number one academically ranked student in her class.

She is ready to take the lessons learned and apply them to future goals as she prepares for a career in the financial service sector of the business world.