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Carmel Senior Wins DAR Good Citizen of the Year

(The Times photo by Betsy Reason)
Carmel High School senior Remi Shirayanagi (fourth from left) was named 2022 Good Citizen winner by the Horseshoe Prairie Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution on Sunday in Noblesville. She poses with finalists representing their local high schools, Caroline Curnutt (left), Heritage Christian School; Jennavee Houser (second from left), Hamilton Heights; Cole Melton (third from left), Noblesville; Gracie Fisher (second from right), Hamilton Southeastern; and Lexi Woodcock (right), Sheridan.

Whenever Carmel High School senior Remi Shirayanagi is in a position of leadership, she tries her best to be not only driven, responsible and a visionary, but also kind, understanding and a good listener.

She learned a lot about leadership and self-ownership when she spent a year in Taiwan.

At age 15, she was a Youth Ambassador to Taiwan for the Rotary Youth Exchange program, attending a local high school and taking Chinese classes at Chung-Yuan University.

“Being 15 without your parents in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, it is essential that you take accountability for yourself,” she said.

Remi is patriotic and loves the opportunities that are available. “As an immigrant, I feel very proud and lucky to be living in the United States,” Remi said.

She works tirelessly to be someone that people can depend on. She values service so much to the point that she plans to pursue a career as a public servant.

Remi epitomizes the four qualities — dependability, service, leadership and patriotism — that define a Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Good Citizen.

“I think it’s really important to be a good citizen to contribute to society, to work toward creating progress in this great nation,” said Remi, who was named winner of the 2022 Good Citizen of the Year Award by the DAR, Horseshoe Prairie Chapter.

Remi is the daughter of Ikue Shirayanagi and Shin Shirayanagi. “The person who inspires me is my mother. She has done a lot for me, growing up in a single-parent household. She immigrated here to help my brother and I support our dreams and give us opportunities,” Remi said.

She accepted the Good Citizen of the Year award on Sunday afternoon during a special DAR Awards Tea at the Noblesville Township Community Center. She received a certificate, DAR Good Citizen pin and a large American flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol in her honor at the request of U.S. Congresswoman Victoria Spartz (R-IN-05) of Noblesville.

The Good Citizen Award and Scholarship Contest was partially based on an essay, “Our American Heritage and Our Responsibility for Preserving It,” which Remi stood and read aloud to those in attendance, giving examples of good citizens, from George Washington and Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King Jr., who inspire her “to become a better citizen. She wrote, “To me, service is working towards making a difference in your community.”

Remi has learned that she has also been selected as one of the 13 state finalists, with the top three winners of the DAR State Good Citizen announced at a May 14 luncheon at the Indianapolis Marriott East, according to Sue Eckl of Carmel, Horseshoe Prairie Chapter DAR’s Good Citizen Award chairperson.

(The Times photo by Betsy Reason)
Carmel High School senior Remi Shirayanaga, who was named 2022 Horseshoe Prairie Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen winner, holds a certificate and a large American flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol in her honor at the request of U.S. Congresswoman Victoria Spartz (R-IN-05) of Noblesville.

At CHS, Remi is most proud of involvement as president of A5 (Advancement of Asian Americans in Arts & Athletics), a school club and student union of more than 200 students, which empowers students to break Asian American stereotypes. (Of Carmel Clay Schools’ student body of 16,395, 15.3 percent are Asian, according to the Indiana Department of Education).

Remi “has worked tirelessly to provide her Asian peers with a platform to speak out about social issues and celebrate their cultures,” said Dylan Gentilcore, CHS English and theater teacher, who wrote a recommendation letter for Remi, who is also in her third year as a member of Carmel Debate of which she is head of Congressional Debate. “Over the course of her engagement with the club, she has demonstrated outstanding leadership, tremendous drive and a passion for organizing her peers,” said Gentilcore, who is Carmel Debate team coach.

“She is a model student and citizen that prioritizes using her skills and motivation to improve the lives and experiences of the people around her,” he said.

At CHS, Remi has played the violin for 12 years and is a section leader for the Symphony Orchestra. She is an AP Distinguished Scholar (earning an average score of at least 3.5 on all AP exams taken) and self-studied AP Japanese her junior year to expedite progress toward this award. She was elected symphony class representative for the Orchestra Council, is a Social Studies peer tutor, Carmel Young Democrats member, DECA business club member and National Honor Society member. She is a National History Day state finalist, a delegate for American Legion Auxiliary Girls State and was a founding committee member and organizer of Carmel Pride. Remi plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in political science and/or international relations.

All of the finalists — who represented their respective schools — had impressive resumes with many high school activities, achievements and areas of special interests, way too many to mention all of their accolades.

Each student contestant wrote an essay without the use of reference materials, according to contest rules.

Noblesville’s Horseshoe Prairie Chapter of DAR presents the Good Citizen Award each year to one graduating senior.

While she is a good student, with a cumulative weighted grade point average of 4.2038, being honored as a DAR Good Citizen is so much more than good grades.

It means you’ve given back to the community, to your school, to your church and to your family, and that you were voted on by your peers and by your administrators.

“As a student, Remi is hard-working and motivated,” said CHS social studies teacher Allison R. Hargrove, who wrote a recommendation for the student for the award. She had Remi as a student in AP U.S. History course during her junior year and is a member of the school’s Social Studies Peer Tutoring program, which Hargrove coordinates.

“She always gives her very best efforts, demonstrating a high level of aptitude on assigned tasks … Remi is the type of student teachers love having in class … Remi always has a wonderful attitude … Because of her strong work ethic and natural intelligence, Remi is an incredibly well-balanced student, yet she was never one to call attention to herself … She is a person that quickly puts others before herself, and she also encourages her peers to make good choices,” Hargrove said. “… Remi is a student that truly embodies what it means to be a scholar because she loves to learn and is naturally inquisitive.”

What else? “I’m really into music. I’ve played violin for 12 years. I love to travel. I like learning languages. I like learning about different cultures. And something random, I like Zillow, I look at ZIllow all the time.”

Each year at the DAR Good Citizen of the Year Tea, winners from each participating school attend, read their essays and receive DAR Good Citizen Pins. The winners then pose for photos and enjoy cake served by the ladies of the DAR.

Other contest finalists representing each of their participating high schools included: Caroline Curnutt. Heritage Christian School; Jennavee Houser, Hamilton Heights; Gracie Fisher, Hamilton Southeastern; Cole Melton, Noblesville; and Lexi Woodcock, Sheridan.

Caroline Curnutt

– Caroline Curnutt of Fishers, the daughter of Cathlynn and Monte Curnutt, is vice president of her school’s student council, is vice president of Best Buddies and is team captain of both the varsity lacrosse team and the varsity soccer team, both of which she has been Academic All-State. She is a National Merit Semifinalist, USA Lacrosse Academic All-American, Distinguished Student in ACSI in Academics, Athletics, Christian Service and leadership, an Indiana Association of School Principal’s Rising Star, American Legion Hoosier Girls State nominee. She is a literacy tutor and Young Athletes program director at Gigi’s Down Syndrome Achievement Center. She is a social media marketing intern for Junkless Food Brands, owner of Caroline Curnutt Photography,  coach for Max Lax, youth leader for East 91st Street Christian Church, official for lacrosse and does travel lacrosse with Indy United. She plans to attend a university and pursue a degree in Neurosciences or Psychology. She has more than a 4.0 grade point average.

Jennavee Houser

– Jennavee Houser of Cicero, the daughter of Jason and Laura Houser, is involved in many school activities. She is a three-year vice president of Business Professionals of America and is or has been on the Robotics Team of which she is co-founder, National Honor Society, Spanish Club, Bring Change to Mind, Drama Club, plays in the school bands and co-captain of the girls soccer team. She is a Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Representative and earned the Mental Attitude Award and All-State Academic Award for girls soccer. She is a 10-year 4-H’er, a six-year Vacation Bible School station director and a volunteer peer tutor in Spanish and Math. She serves with Respite Ranch, a day camp for foster children. She plans to pursue a degree in biology or kinesiology and minor in Spanish and pursue a career in physical therapy.

Gracie Fisher

– Gracie Fisher of Noblesville, the daughter of Jon and Tracie Fisher, will graduate Summa Cum Laude. She is involved with FFA, for which she is president of her school chapter, was Agriculture Communications State Champion, a Prepared Public Speaking State runner-up, served on the Agricultural Marketing 3rd national team, a past Creed Speaking state runner-up, and a Star Greenhand recognized for her outstanding accomplishments. She is vice president of her school’s student council, president of DECA business club and in 2021 was a Business Finance Series International qualifier and is also a four-year member of National Honor Society. She is a 10-year 4-H’er, currently her club’s president and 2020 Hamilton County 4-H Fair Royal Showman. She is farm manager for Hull Family Farms, farmhand for a local family, team volunteer for iTown Church and a Girl Scout 2009-18. She has spent more than 600 hours as camp counselors for 4-H, school and church, and she has joined her own family in donating thousands of pounds of food to local food banks, which inspired her to be the chairperson of the food drive at her high school the last two years. She plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in finance and possibly a master’s degree.

Cole Melton

– Cole Melton of Noblesville, the son of Brian and Jennifer Melton, is a drum major for Noblesville Marching Millers, has earned a rating of gold with distinction in both solo and ensemble in ISSMA Solo and Ensemble contests, and current or past member of NHS Key Club, NHS’s first Miller Mentors that make freshman students feel more welcome, NHS Spanish Club, Purdue Extension’s A Chance to Serve program, is a National Merit Semifinalist, AP Scholar with Honor and Rising Star award winner. He has managed many community service projects, volunteered for a back-to-school ice cream social, with local Cub Scout packs and White River cleanup. He is a Life Scout working toward becoming an Eagle Scout, is a full, voting member of Hamilton County Purdue Extension Board. He plans to study Biology in college and wants to be a biological researcher or physician. He is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys camping and backpacking and finds peace in nature and time with his family.

Lexi Woodcock

– Lexi Woodcock of Sheridan, the daughter of Carrie Woodcock and Jeff Woodcock, is Student Council class president and a member of National Honor Society, National Forensics League, Concert Choir, JAG (Jobs for America’s Graduates) community service liaison, Drama Club, Sunshine Society, honor roll, Big Buddy program, Spanish Quiz Bowl and varsity cheer captain and cheerleader for football and basketball. She is a Sheridan Public Library student board member, Sheridan announcer for events, Indiana Rising Star and a Girls State nominee. She has made a difference in her community through Sheridan CAARES (Creating Actions and Attitudes Regarding Emotional Support), a new student-led program aimed at mental health stigmas and spoke at the Indiana Statehouse to state senators regarding mental health within Indiana schools. She plans to attend college with an interest in psychology and communications.

DAR, a 125-year-old organization, is for women who can document descent from a Revolutionary War Patriot. People can research their ancestry at www.dar.org/national-society/genealogy. For more information, visit www.DAR.com.

– Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.