Culpeper student gets Congressional Award Gold Medal


A rising senior at Culpeper County High School recently earned the Congressional Award Gold Medal for outstanding achievement among young Americans.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Glen Allen, presented the award—Congress’s highest honor for youth—last week to Kasey Mize, of Jeffersonton, and Ciarra Noelle Smith, of Chesterfield. Both students reside in Virginia’s 7th District, represented by Spanberger. Students from around the nation also received gold medals during the June 20 ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Mize fulfilled service goals for the Gold Medal by spearheading the creation of a sewing group that produced more than 200 dresses annually for girls living in impoverished parts of the world, according to a release from Spanberger’s office. The project was designed to address a practical concern than keeps many girls from attending school.

Mize also deepened her technical skills in guitar and keyboard, forming a band to share her love of music. Additionally, she improved in distance running and soccer, the release stated. Featured last year in the CCHS Academic Spotlight, Mize attended Regional Summer Governor’s School and has acted in school plays as well.

Smith got the award for serving as a volunteer at the Science Museum of Virginia and building rehabilitation structures for a Central Virginia wildlife foundation. The Chesterfield student also practiced becoming a skilled weightlifter and read 300 books in two years.

“I’m proud to recognize two Central Virginia students for their outstanding achievements in earning the Gold Congressional Award Medal. Their accomplishment demonstrates a strong ability to independently set goals, form a strategy, and follow it through,” said Spanberger in a statement. “Over the past few years, Kasey and Ciara have proved they have the ability to think both analytically and creatively about how to strengthen their communities and about the improvement they want to see in themselves. I congratulate them on their accomplishment, and I look forward to watching their future accomplishments and contributions to our Central Virginia community as they build on this strong foundation in the years to come.”

The Congressional Award program is non-partisan and open to individuals ages 13 through 24. Congressional Award participants may earn Bronze, Silver, or Gold Congressional Award Certificates or Bronze, Silver, or Gold Congressional Award Medals. Each level of achievement corresponds to different goals in four main areas—voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness, and expedition/exploration, according to the release.

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