DAR Good Citizen Award presented to local high school students

Contributed Photo: Nathan Skiba receives the DAR Good Citizen Award at Pima High School from Gayle Bryce and Kerry Kelley, local Gila Valley Chapter members. The Gila Valley Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution recently presented the 2023 DAR Good Citizen Award to seven local seniors.

Contributed Article/Courtesy Bonnie Briscoe, DAR Member

GRAHAM COUNTY – The Gila Valley Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution recently presented the 2023 DAR Good Citizen Award to high schools in Graham and Greenlee counties.  One student was chosen from each senior class based on the exceptional ways he or she demonstrated qualities of dependability, service, leadership, and patriotism in their homes, schools, and communities. The process for making the selection varied with each school but included school administrators, teachers, counselors, and students from the senior class. The following are the honored good citizens, their qualities, and involvement in activities for this award:

Alicia Cruz

Alicia Cruz, from Morenci High School, as Student Body Vice President, along with other responsibilities in this leadership role, begins each school morning by reading the daily announcements, leading the Pledge of Allegiance, and wishing the entire student body a good morning. She has both outstanding communication and leadership skills.

She is constantly giving her time to help others, which is her passion. She volunteers at the annual Morenci Lions Club Baseball Tournament. Many times, in the classroom, she has offered to assist her peers with concepts that they may need help with. Time and again, she has mentored younger players at volleyball and softball practices.

She is a four-year member of not only the varsity softball team but also the varsity volleyball team. In addition, she is a member of the National Honor Society, Math Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, and GIFT Nursing Program.

Outside of school, one organization she particularly enjoys is Life Teen, a youth ministry by the local Catholic Church Holy Cross that helps with church-related events and reaches out to the community.

Being part of the youth ministry and a variety of activities at school gives her more opportunities to be involved with helping her school and community.

She gives one hundred percent in anything she participates in whether it’s cheering for her teammates during a game, helping her teachers in the classroom, managing assemblies and games for the students, or serving her church with big events. She believes that being an overall good person will get anyone far in life. Therefore, she strives to be the best person she can become and help others to succeed as well.

In addition to her busy schedule, she has been taking EAC classes for the last two years and will graduate with an Associate’s Degree before she graduates from high school.  This has all been done while maintaining a 3.8 GPA. She is ranked in the top ten of her class.

Her above-average performances in her academic and extracurricular activities are a direct result of her hard work and strong focus. She is the embodiment of what it takes to be a Good Citizen. Our society is a better place with people like Alicia in it.

In addition to $50 given by the Gila Valley Chapter to each honoree for this award, a special $100 donation was given to Alicia by the Amie and Danny Savage family who live in Morenci. Amie, a DAR member, wanted to use this opportunity to recognize a deserving Morenci High School graduating senior.

Alicia is the daughter of Jennifer Roybal of Morenci.

Ariel Harrington

Ariel Harrington, from Duncan High School, is a natural helper with a caring personality that radiates in everything she does.  Overall, she is someone that others know that they can ask for help if something needs to be done.

She looks for those that are struggling and asks if she can help. Whether it is tutoring someone in Math or helping set up or take down a project, she is always the first one to be there and the last one to leave. She actually seeks people out and asks what she can do to help.

She has been actively involved with volleyball, basketball, softball, STEM Club (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics), FBLA Chapter (Future Business Leaders of America), the Knowledge Bowl Team, and the Associated Student Body, usually being a treasurer, vice president or president for either one of the clubs or her class.

Twice, she traveled to Florida with the STEM CLUB for the Space Settlement Design Competition.  Both times she won the Exceptional Leadership Award for working behind the scenes to help others, answer questions, encourage her teammates when needed, and make sure that their competition deadlines were met. She was one of four chosen for this award out of over 200 students from around the world.

Outside of school, she participates in her local church group and helps her mom at the Clifton Art Depot. She tries to help with almost any type of fundraiser or service project whether it is setting up Christmas decorations, helping serve dinner for an event, or staying after school until all the basketball games are over to help with concessions.

Ariel is the daughter of Pamela and Levi Harrington of Duncan.

Mia Gonzales

Mia Gonzales, from Mount Graham High School, is a great example of a hard worker who is willing to help anyone.  In the Teen Outreach Program, she took advantage of many opportunities to use these qualities in community service and career exploration.

For community service, she volunteered her time to assist the Daughters of the American Revolution in their scholarship fundraiser. This fundraiser involved dipping 1,600 strawberries into different flavors of melted chocolate and then creating 135 plates of those delicious chocolate-covered strawberries for the public to purchase.  Being in a building with all that chocolate aroma for five hours was wonderful and weight-gaining, but it was a lot of work, and Mia did a great job and didn’t gain an ounce!

This year for career exploration, she was the first Mt. Graham High School Electronic & Communication Engineering (ECE) student to compete at the Family, Career & Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) State Leadership Conference.  She took third place for her toy design that she created to meet the developmental needs of children 2 – 4 years of age.

One of her favorite experiences, in these last two years, was being part of the wrestling team at Safford High School.  It took hard work, sweat, and determination to compete in a male-dominant sport. She realized how strong she really was, both physically and mentally.  She took the opportunity to be one of the first girls to go to state wrestling held at the Phoenix Memorial Coliseum.

Mia is the daughter of Perla Martinez of Sanchez and Robert Gonzales of Safford.

Olivia Madrid

Olivia Madrid, from Safford High School, is incredibly engaged in her studies and has set big goals for herself. She believes strongly in striving to be her best. She always delivers class work that exceeds expectations and is highly organized.  Because she is outgoing, kind, respectful, and considerate of her classmates and teachers, she works exceptionally well with others.

As an athlete, she participated in varsity cross country her freshman year, and, all four years, was on the varsity soccer team; served as team captain her senior year. For the SHS Student Council, she served as the social activities chairman.

Outside of school, she enjoys helping the community wherever she can. She served on the Parks & Recreation Committee with the Graham County STARS (Students Taking A Road to Success). In that capacity, she helped with the Community Baby Shower, and Movie at the Park, and partnered with the City of Safford for many different events. As part of that committee, she attended The Leagues of Cities and Towns in Phoenix, helping to present a number of ideas for things to be changed in Safford in order to make it a better place.  She helped out with local parades throughout the year.

Over the summer of 2021, she personally conducted inspections with the Attorney General’s office and the FDA.  At large town events, she helped to advocate that smoking & vaping is not healthy. As a youth leader at The Way Outreach Arizona Church, the youth helped to pay for people’s groceries if they could not afford them and any other needs they had.

Currently, she is enlisted in the Arizona Army National Guard and, one weekend a month works as a team with her platoon, company & battalion to complete basic combat training.

Olivia is the daughter of Valerie Sanchez of Thatcher.

Felicity Lunt

Felicity Lunt, from Thatcher High School, participated in student council and served as Student Body President, working exceptionally well with everyone in the different student classes, the advisors, the teachers, and the staff.

She was a group leader in the National Honor Society, a member of the Biotechnology II Club, where she served as the vice president, and active in the We Fly Club, which supports and advocates school spirit. As an athlete, she was a regional champ in track, for all four years of high school. With her flexibility in being involved and working hard, she found all these school activities to be a lot of fun, and something she would not have experienced had she not been involved.

Outside of school, she held multiple part-time jobs and currently works part-time at Ginaveve’s Market Place as a barista, making coffee and other drinks.

While attending classes, being deeply involved in extracurricular activities at school, and working part-time, she was highly active in her church where she served as a counselor and the president of her young women’s religious group presidency.

In addition to all the above, she participated in multiple service projects with some of her favorite projects being volunteering at local track meets and helping out at food banks.

Felicity is the daughter of Stephanie and Breton Lunt of Central.

Nathan Skiba

Nathan Skiba, from Pima High School, was involved in student council for two years, organizing and running school activities and projects. He also played football and basketball and played in both these sports on the state champion teams. It is noted that he is a good teammate and friend and shows integrity on and off the court or field.

He has also been a member of the Safford Substance Abuse Coalition. He is involved in the leadership of his young men’s group at church and spent many years in the scouting program.

He has been involved with several service projects, which include cleaning highways, landscaping yards, beautifying the cemetery, and building goat pens, chicken coops, and fences for others. Since he enjoys helping elderly people with cleaning up their homes, one time he spent two 14-hour days in a row helping an elderly senior move out of his home and another person move in.  If he sees anyone that seems to be struggling with anything whether it be groceries, in need of money, or lifting something heavy, he is there to volunteer to help if he can.

He is loyal to his family, friends, and beliefs but is also very inclusive of others.  No matter what group of other students he is working within a class or school activity, he includes everyone and makes them feel important. He is very kind and works well with his classmates but isn’t afraid to call them out if needed. He loves to have a good time and likes to make sure others are having a good time as well. He is steady and even-tempered. You can always rely on him to set a pleasant and willing tone in the classroom. If a project calls for creativity and getting out of a comfort zone, he leads the way!

While attending and studying for his high school classes, participating in sports, serving on the student council, and volunteering wherever needed, he also holds down a job at Kainoa’s.

Nathan is the son of Carolyn and Jeff Skiba of Thatcher.

Jade Cheney

Jada Cheney, from Fort Thomas High School, has a sweet disposition and is good-natured, positive, kind, thoughtful, and helpful to her teachers, school staff, fellow students, and those in her community as well as anyone she meets.

With Student Council, she has served as Vice President and Secretary for her Senior Class. During her junior year, she was the manager for the softball team, and at the end of that year was selected by her school to attend Arizona Girls State.

As a member of the National Honor Society, she helped with community projects on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation.  This involved delivering food packages and creating gift bags.  This also included offering Drug-Free presentations to elementary-aged children through the Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition in which Jada was one of the speakers.

Outside of school, she has been involved with the youth group of her church, cooking burgers and hot dogs at Firth Park in Safford for anyone in the community in need of a meal, like the homeless.  This same church group reached out to young people in Thatcher’s skate parks, even providing pizza for them. She also helped put care packages together for the women in the women’s shelter.

She is a hard-working, cheerful, dedicated student with an impressive work ethic. She works very well independently or in a group. She is never afraid to ask questions and get help when needed. She sticks to her assignments until they are completed. Assignments were rarely if ever late. Her diligence shows in her grades, maintaining a 3.93 GPA.

Jada is the daughter of Heather ­­­­Cheney of Bylas