SDHS Student earns Congressional Award

DENTON | A South Davidson High School senior was surprised Wednesday morning when a special visitor congratulated him on his personal and community work.

U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-8th, presented Brandon Paul with the Congressional Award Silver and Bronze medals during class. The awards give young people the opportunity to set personal goals and achieve them through four components — public service, personal development, physical fitness and exploration.

"I'm very impressed with the amount of volunteer hours you have done," Hudson said to Paul in front of nearly 70 students. "This is the only award given by Congress to students who show initiative, community service and self-improvement. I'm proud to be in Wildcat country to present you this award. Congratulations!"

The award recognizes more than 1,400 hours of public service Paul finished. Some of the services he submitted included starting a debate club at the school and volunteering with Circles for Davidson — a program of Family Services of Davidson County. In the past, he has volunteered with the N.C. Baptist Aging Ministry through Baptist Children's Home of N.C.

He also participated in the N.C. Governor's School, attended a math and science summer venture, traveled to South Korea, completed an internship with the U.S. State Department and served as the tri-speaker for the 44th annual Youth Legislative Assembly, sponsored by the N.C. Department of Administration's Youth Advocacy & Involvement Office. For the physical component, Paul lost more than 20 pounds.

Paul will participate in the Davidson County Community College commencement exercise Saturday where he will obtain a General Education Core Diploma in Science, which will allow him to transfer 44 semester hours to college and not be required to take other general education classes. He plans on double majoring in American government and pre-professional legal studies at Appalachian State University in the fall.

He started the process of obtaining the Congressional Award two years ago.

"It's just so satisfying that a lot of this is coming to an end," Paul, 18, said. "A lot of stuff around South Davidson is invisible. It feels so good to finally have it shown."

He said having Hudson bring the award to him in person made it even more special than just receiving something in the mail. Paul noted that one day he could picture himself being in the political arena like Hudson because he has a strong interest in politics.

"It's really good he came. It puts so much more power behind it," Paul said.

Hudson shared a little information about himself to the students after honoring Paul. He was elected in November 2012 and sworn in January 2013. Part of Davidson County used to be in the 6th District where Howard Coble was the representative until 2012 when redistricting occurred. Now part of Davidson County is in the 8th District.

"I'm your congressman," Hudson said to the students. "This is the first (Congressional Award) I've given. This is exciting. It's wonderful to be with you. I encourage you to get involved with the political progress. Everything we deal with affects you. I encourage you to educate yourself on your elected officials."

Lisa Paul, Paul's mother and SDHS guidance counselor, said she was excited for her son because he worked so hard to receive the award. He is also the son of James Paul. Paul thanked his parents for their help and support throughout the process.

Paul is working on obtaining the gold medal as well. He hopes to complete the process in the fall as a college student. If awarded, he will receive the award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., next summer.

"I would encourage anyone to do this. It's a great motivation," Paul said.

The Lexington Dispatch, by: Deneesha Edwards

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