Jun 01, 2021

Teen Scene

By Lori Draz and Amelia Buthorn

Welcome to Teen Scene. Each month our young authors write, in their own voice, stories that will educate and inform fellow students and parents. If you are a teen who would like to write your story, contact The Journal. We’ll help you polish it up, so don’t worry, let’s just get to sharing.

This month’s author is 17-year-old Amelia Buthorn, a senior in Middletown High School South. Red, white and blue has returned with the summer season as people celebrate Flag Day and the Fourth of July. We have been through a lot as a nation, and this year, independence and citizenship is even more meaningful than ever before. Amelia Buthorn knows a lot about those values. She was recently awarded the Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen Award. She impressed the judges with her personal essay and final timed essay, but more importantly, she established herself as role model for good citizenship. Amelia lives her daily life as a good citizen and feels more fulfilled and productive for it. Here is Amelia’s story.

As Americans, our responsibility to act as good citizens is emphasized more than most countries. America serves as a beacon of hope for many, a country where good prevails. We are taught that if we live up to these high expectations and act with kindness and respect, we will reap the rewards of our actions. I take these duties seriously in my own life and try to make as many decisions as I can with the conscious goal of helping others. I am able to recognize the fortunate life I have lived this far and use the resources I have been granted to help other people. There are endless ways to manifest the qualities of a good citizen, and what truly matters is everyone’s individual efforts to positively impact their surroundings.

Personally, the main way I manifest the desire to make meaningful change and fulfill my civic duties is through community service. Especially during these trying times, volunteering is so crucial, and it can have a major impact on an individual’s life. This past year, I volunteered for the Front-Line Appreciation Group (FLAG) of Holmdel and Middletown to deliver food to nursing homes, healthcare providers, and houses of those during the COVID-19 pandemic. Being able to actually see the positive effect my work had on my community inspired me to continue to search for more opportunities to give back. The difficult days we all experienced showed us that there are many factors out of any single person’s control. It was a very beneficial experience to do my small part.

Being a good citizen does not require a person to evoke major, unprecedented change. In fact, it’s often the many small achievements that result in a larger effect. For instance, when I volunteered for FLAG, I did not supply every American with food; I helped those in my immediate community. I worked within my personal parameters, and I still made a meaningful and important difference. It takes many people, many hours and much dedication, but if everyone acts as a good citizen by doing a few little things here and there, true change is made. Not everyone can discover the cure to a disease or solve world hunger, but many actions made by many good citizens ultimately benefit everyone.

Volunteering is not the only way to act as a good citizen, and upon reflection, I have realized that the possibilities are endless. Voting is another responsibility we have as Americans and a relatively simple one. Making an informed and educated decision about the candidate that best suits a person’s values in any given election, whether it be for something as small-scale as class president or as major as the U.S. president, reinforces a person’s values and demonstrates their attempts to better their community through that candidate. Something as simple and second nature as abiding by the law also shows a person’s desire to do good. These are valuable rights and privileges, and I am motivated to make the most of what I have been given.

Being a responsible American citizen extends past politics and our duties listed in the Constitution. Being a respectful, well-rounded person is in many ways the first step in the journey of becoming a good citizen. When a person is willing to learn and is tolerant of others, they are better able to recognize their own privilege and entitlement and become more willing to use this knowledge to help others. Personally, once I was finally able to realize how fortunate I was and educated myself more, I was even more motivated to work for the benefit of my community. Even something as small as helping out a friend in need is an act of kindness that can still have a major effect. I try to focus on this aspect of my life every day and work on being the best peer I can be to the people around me.

There is no one concrete way to manifest the qualities of a good citizen. Everyone’s situation is different, and thus a person’s actions and influence on the world will be unique to that individual. For me, what is most meaningful is the willingness to lend a helping hand to others in need, and that is often the greatest contribution a person can make to society. As I move through the different stages of my life, the motivation of being a good citizen will continue to be a top priority of mine, and I urge everyone around me to make the world a better place by doing the same.