Every year at this time, I get invited to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Horseshoe Prairie Chapter Good Citizen Awards Tea.
The ladies serve up cake and punch and invite the DAR Good Citizen winners from each participating school to attend, read their essays and receive their DAR Good Citizen Pins. The winners then pose for photos, and the overall winner receives a colonial flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol in their honor.
This year, due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) pandemic, the logistics were a little different. The nine winners from each school and their parents, along with DAR members and this journalist were all invited to log into a Zoom video conference.
“Unfortunately our DAR Horseshoe Prairie chapter had to host its annual Good Citizen recognition tea virtually this year,” said DAR Horseshoe Prairie Good Citizen chairperson Sue Eckl of Carmel. “While it was not how we wanted to celebrate these incredible nine seniors, these resilient students are used to this new commonplace mode of communication.”
While it wasn’t quite the same as in person (I not only missed cake and punch but the in-person opportunity to meet all of these amazing students), the DAR still put on an awesome program.
The Good Citizens Award and Scholarship Contest was not only based on being a good citizen and serving our country but also based on an essay “Our American Heritage and Our Responsibility for Preserving It,” with this year’s focus question: “How do the combined actions of so many good citizens help our nation moving forward?”
Overall Good Citizen of the Year winner was Katelyn Riddle from Tipton High School. Academically, she is in the Top 10 percent of her class since ninth grade, was on All-A’s honor roll her sophomore and junior years, is a National Honor Society inductee, is ranked ninth in her class of 126 seniors and has a 4.072 grade point average.
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. Riddle is a drum major in her school band, where she plays clarinet in marching band and concert band, alto saxophone and baritone saxophone in jazz band, and she has earned golds for solo and ensemble competitions. She volunteered her freshman year more than 60 hours helping kids with their homework at the local Boys & Girls Club, where she worked for three summers and two school years. She plans to study biomedical sciences or biochemistry and become a scientist.
This year, there were nine finalists, or winners representing each school:
Carmel -- Yanni Wei, daughter of Min Wei and Yanqiu Song
Fishers -- Katie Barnett, daughter of Richard and Ashlea Barnett
Hamilton Heights - Katie Smith, Cicero, daughter of Rich Smith and Sue Smith.
Hamilton Southeastern -- Daniela Martinez, Noblesville, daughter of Esther Zoro and Daniel Martinez
Heritage Christian -- Ty Vaughan, Fishers, son of Gary and Stacey Vaughan
Noblesville -- Eleanor Karst, daughter of Richard and Heidi Karst.
Sheridan -- Leah Moorman, daughter of Ralph and Amber Moorman
Tipton -- Katelyn Riddle, Kempton, daughter of James and Christy Riddle
Westfield -- Connor Housefield, son of John and Erin Housefield.
All of the finalists, or winners from each school, had impressive resumes with many high school activities, achievements and areas of special interests, way too many to mention all of their accolades in this column.
Eckl mailed the students their Good Citizen pins certificates and cards so they were able to wear their pins to the ceremony. “Their parents, counselors, our chapter regent, (retired Noblesville Chamber president of 13 years) Sharon McMahon (of Noblesville), and other DAR members were also able to attend on Zoom and were able to see and hear each student read their well-crafted and impressive essays,” Eckl said.
In addition, the 2021 DAR Horseshoe Prairie Chapter overall Good Citizen winner Katelyn Riddle will be mailed an additional certificate, check from the chapter and a large cotton American flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol in her honor at the request of new U.S. Congresswoman Victoria Spartz (R-IN-05) of Noblesville.
Riddle’s scholarship application was forwarded to the Indiana State DAR for the Indiana State Good Citizen competition, and the Horseshoe Prairie Chapter hopes to hear that Riddle moves on to the next level of state judging.
“Despite gathering virtually, it did not diminish the fact that these nine seniors represent some of the finest representatives of our future leaders of our country,” Eckl said. “They epitomize the qualities of good character that define a DAR Good Citizen: dependability, service, leadership and patriotism."
Eckl said, “These students are the best and brightest Hamtilon County has to offer.”
Read more about each of the finalists in upcoming editions of The Times.
DAR is for women who can document descent from a Revolutionary War Patriot. People can research their ancestry at www.dar.org/national-society/genealogy. It was Dec. 2, 1896, when DAR was granted its congressional charter; 2021 will celebrate 125 years. For more information, visit www.DAR.com.

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