Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Exemplary Student Gets $5,000 Scholarship

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Exemplary Student Gets $5,000 Scholarship

Article excerpt

Making the right choices, such as not going to parties where

alcohol or drugs or sex are on the activities list, is not

always easy for a teenager.

But Katie Fitzpatrick, president of the senior class at Orange

Park High School, has discovered that choosing the responsible

path not only is healthier, but also monetarily rewarding.

She was the recipient Thursday of one of only three $5,000

college scholarships awarded to students in Florida this year by

the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans Inc.

Fitzpatrick, who has a 3.3 grade-point average, was one of

three finalists nominated by her school guidance counselors for

the prize, which is awarded on the basis of a student's academic

standing, personal integrity and an essay.

"I wrote my essay on being a Christian in a public high school

and standing up for my beliefs and morals," Fitzpatrick said.

"It's not easy to do. Everybody at high school talks about doing

drugs, going to parties and having sex and stuff. It's just hard

to stay away from that."

But her faith prevailed, she said, and now she tries to steer

friends and fellow students away from alcohol, drugs and

premarital sex as a member of her school's peer mediation team.

"I try to let them know that that's not what I want to be doing

and that you can have fun without doing it," she said.

Fitzpatrick received the award in the school gymnasium during a

Horatio Alger Youth Seminar focusing on career opportunities for

youths and the value of hard work, integrity and community

service.

"I'm very honored," she said. "I was very surprised when I got

picked."

The seminar was part of a health fair on campus that Vice

Principal Larry Lancaster dubbed a "Just Say Yes to Life

Campaign," which included an upbeat concert by The Voyager, a

youth band from Pennsylvania whose songs stress healthy choices.

Health care professionals and various organizations also set up

booths to "demonstrate positive choices people can make in their

lives" as alternatives to drugs, alcohol and suicide, Lancaster

said. …

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