Matthew Reed Easterling of Francis Howell Central and Mya Walker of Francis Howell North were presented last month with the 2021 Outstanding Achievement in Citizenship Award by the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education – an honor earned by only six students in the state.
This statewide award recognizes students’ exemplary civic actions, academic achievement, extracurricular leadership and community service.
Missouri Commissioner of Education Dr. Margie Vandeven called honorees “citizen leaders” in a virtual awards ceremony on May 5, and praised the students’ dedication to serve others, and their passion to make a difference in our future.
Dr. Blaine Henningsen, assistant commissioner for the office of college and career readiness, served as master of ceremonies and explained the rigorous process for selection that included application, academic record, letter of recommendation, extracurricular involvement and an essay.
“Effective, quality citizenship means to embody all these things: improving the lives of others, participating in the legal and political processes and allowing opportunities for education that encourages people to do better,” Walker wrote in her essay.
A segment of Easterling’s essay reads, “Fighting against voter suppression is a step toward freedom, a step toward liberty and justice for all, a step towards the America where all citizens are equal in the eyes of the law.”
Friends and family members were able to tune in virtually to celebrate the honor. Walker and her parents, Michelle and Walter, as well as her grandmother were in attendance. Easterling said he celebrated offline while completing an AP exam.