How many high school students can say they have an award from the Duke of Edinburgh?
Since the beginning of this year, students at
In 1956, the Duke of Edinburgh program began in the
"The award was developed after World War II to get youth active in the community," said Jonathan D'Avignon, Seacoast principal. "At Seacoast, our key thing is developing talent. This program is another piece of the puzzle we can offer outside of academia."
The program is based around three levels: Bronze (ages 14 and up), Silver (ages 15 and up), and Gold (ages 16 and up). The first bronze class was launched with six tenth grade students on Jan. 1.
Students have a vested interest in the program because they tailor it themselves, setting up their own schedules and mentors, as well as sending biweekly reports. Each level is comprised of four tenets: community service, physical fitness, special skills, and an adventurous journey. As students progress to the next level, the time requirements for each activity increase. Time spent on the program is separate from school.
"We have students volunteering at Alaqua, learning a new musical instrument at Ohana Records and shadowing administration personnel at
Sumpter, who splits his time between
"My daughters were attending the
As a recreational mountaineer, Sumpter had easily taken to showing students around European terrain. The ex-military officer already had years of experience trekking through Asia, the
"I kind of found my calling," he said.
In 2013 when Sumpter and his family moved back to
"In such a competitive world, it's nice to give these students the opportunity to grow as young adults doing things they are passionate about," Sumpter said. "After three years, they can walk away with a gold award. I think it's an amazing accomplishment.”
"It shows self-discipline to stick with something, which our students display with honors and AP classes as well as dual enrollment," D'Avignon said. "And it brings it all back to the community."
Students, such as tenth-grader Luke Erdahl look forward to the experiences that lie ahead for them in the program.
"The reason that the Duke of Edinburg Award appeals to me is that it gives one prestigious credit for things that one already does," he said. "It is flexible and helps to make a specific way to credit each individual for their interests and talents without compromising the standards of the program that give it a strong ethos."
Right now, Sumpter is gearing up for his first adventurous journey with Seacoast students. The group will be spending two days and one night in
In the future, Sumpter looks forward to developing the Duke of Edinburgh program for his daughters to soon enjoy; both are in middle school right now.
"I'd love to see this program spread across