Tyler Consolidated High School senior Amanda Dawson is this year's recipient of the Adam R. Kelly Memorial Scholarship Award.
The announcement was made by TCHS counselor Teri McCoy during the Class of 2014 commencement exercises held May 22.
Dawson is the daughter of Rev. and Mrs. Bill and Dawson of Sistersville. She was selected by the scholarship committee to receive the $500 cash award. Dawson plans to attend Fairmont State University for a double major in exercise science and Spanish.
The scholarship is given annually to a graduating senior from TCHS in honor of the late "Country Editor" columnist. It was established in June 1990 in memory of Kelly, who died three months earlier at the age of 65.
Kelly moved to Sistersville in 1954 and remained there until the time of his death, serving as editor and publisher of the Tyler Star News until 1979. He then began writing "The Country Editor" column, which appeared in the Wheeling Intelligencer and News-Register, and several other West Virginia publications. Kelly won numerous state and national awards for his pieces.
From 1990 to 1993, two scholarships were given each year to Tyler County graduating seniors.
The scholarship committee considered candidates from both Sistersville and Tyler County high schools, selecting one recipient each year from each school.
When the two county high schools were consolidated in September 1993, the scholarship committee opted to award one scholarship to a Tyler Consolidated senior.
Applicants must submit a resume along with an essay titled "In Defense of Freedom."
They are also interviewed by the scholarship committee. The students' applications, essays, academic achievements, extracurricular activities, college plans, and financial need are assessed by the committee members during the selection process.
While a student at Tyler Consolidated, Dawson was a top 10 finalist in the West Virginia Scholar Scholarship competition during her junior year and a People's Bank Top 15 percent Award recipient for four years.
She earned 4.0 Honor Roll accolades each year, and was recognized for faithful attendance. She was a four-time Tyler County Young Writers winner, Tyler Consolidated Student of the Month, and Tyler Consolidated Academic Letter Award winner.
She is proficient in Spanish and is a student of piano. She performed as a pianist for Miss Knight, Senior Awards Day, and Baccalaureate services.
She is an active member of Sistersville First United Methodist Church and has completed 80 hours of mission work for the Upshur County Parish House. Dawson also has volunteered at the Sistersville Genesis Healthcare Center and at the Sistersville General Health Clinic.
As a volunteer, she has helped at the TCHS Booster concession stand, Vacation Bible School, and Energy Express. She also was a peer tutor in 2010.
Other past recipients of the Adam R. Kelly Memorial Scholarship Award are: 1990, Shelly Dawn Craven and Ryan Joseph Morgan; 1991, Betsy J. Snyder and Charles "Chip" Hendricks II; 1992, Daniel J. Hanood and Ken Ferrell; 1993, Amanda Diane Myers and Joshua Gurtler; 1994, Jodi Livingston; 1995, Brandice Cherilynne Smith; 1996, Nancy Carolyn Myers; 1997, Luke N. Peters; 1998, Karen Folger; 1999, Catherine E. Peters; 2000, Leann M. Kucharski; 2001, Erin Wilt; 2002, Michael A. Smith; 2003, Brian F. Rohrig; 2004, J. Lance McKeever; 2005, Thomas Andrew "Drew" Carson; 2006, Jessica B. Kisner; 2007, Adam Scott Knowlton; Linda Bassett, 2008; Zach Perkey, 2009; and Emily D. Thomas, 2010; Blaine Rice, 2011; Tara Weese, 2012; and Martina M. Parrish, 2013.
The scholarship fund was endowed through contributions from area businesses, friends, and newspaper journalists from throughout the state. Additionally, an Adam R. Kelly Memorial Golf Tournament was held for three years at the Sistersville Country Club, where Kelly was a member.
Dawson's essay follows:
"In Defense of Freedom"
On May 26th, Memorial Day, Americans all over the United States will be remembering their loved ones who lost their lives to different wars throughout our country's history. Were these deaths just? Should those soldiers have been sent to that war? If you pick up a newspaper today, you will see various headlines on the conflict in Ukraine or military advancements in Afghanistan and other war-ravaged countries. Whether the majority approves of their fighting or not, these soldiers are fighting in the defense of freedom.
In the 1960s, the Vietnam War was a hotly contested topic. Individuals rallied in the streets to protest and picket sending our American soldiers off to war. My grandpap, Don Casteel, was one of those soldiers sent off to fight in Vietnam; he served on the frontline for about 3 years before being honorably discharged. After serving his time, he returned home as a new man, hardened by the sights and experiences he had in war.
Today, I have a strong amount of respect for my grandpap. He bears physical pain like an olympic champion, yet he still maintains a kind heart. Even though his affections are still not always as obvious as "the elephant in the room", he shows his love through small actions. Commonly, he will express his love by nicely "picking on" his grandchildren, or even rarer, he will compliment a new dress or outfit that I wear.
I realize that he probably saw many of his comrades die before him in that bloody and toxic environment, and I am grateful that he remained safe, self-aware, and true to himself despite that exposure. Similar to the time during the Vietnam War, Americans today despise the War in Iraq. Under the Obama administration, many troops have been withdrawn, but many more remain. Due to roadside bombs, friendly fire, or terrorist attacks, United States troops continue to die.
Consequently, wives, husbands, children, and parents all anxiously await the return of their heroes - everyday people. You see, the real heroes are not Spiderman, Batman, or Superman; instead, they are parents, mechanics, businessmen, or waitresses. The real heroes are those individuals who risk their lives to potentially save the lives of many other innocent individuals. The real heroes are not invincible, for they can be killed with one bullet through the heart. Does that stop them? No, because they are brave, strong heroes.
Personally, I have never been mesmerized by Marvel's "superheroes". Sure, they can lift cars singlehandedly or swing from building to building along spiderwebs, but is that reality? No, in reality, the people who truly deserve our appreciation are those who can be injured or bleed to death, yet still sign up, get deployed, and fight to the death for not only their own rights but also every American's rights, freedoms, and safety.
Deployments are not full of luxuries; they consist of desert roads, lonely nights, and incessant safety concerns.
Meanwhile, we sleep safely in our comfy beds each night.
So, whether you believe those soldiers should be fighting in that country or not, why aren't you exerting all your energy into supporting them instead of protesting? My grandpap takes pride in his service to his country, and he appreciates the respect and support he receives. Like him, I know other military personnel desire this support and respect, and they certainly deserve it for continually fighting in defense of our freedom.