Claire Cromley, a rising senior at The John Cooper School, and Frank Masuelli, a 2016 Cooper graduate, were among 325 youth from around the nation who received a Congressional Award Gold Medal on June 16 in Washington, D.C. The two Woodlands residents are two of only 21 students recognized from the state of Texas.
Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives joined community and corporate leaders to recognize young people who have dedicated hundreds of hours of service to their communities. The two Cooper students attended an award ceremony in the Cannon Caucus Room on Capitol Hill, followed by a Youth Wellness Recognition Dinner at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
The Gold Medal is based on four criteria: 400 cumulative hours of public service, 200 hours of physical activity, 200 hours of personal growth and an exploration which is designed to show independence and immersion in a different culture. Both students were required to write about the impact of the experiences that were to take place outside of school activities. Cromley and Masuelli were each awarded a Congressional Award bronze and silver medals by U.S. Representative Kevin Brady in 2014 and 2015.
Cromley met the Gold Medal criteria for public service hours by working at the South Montgomery County Memorial Library and the Montgomery County Food Bank. She achieved the physical activity criteria through Pilates classes and off-campus tennis and enhanced her personal growth by working at pools through The Woodlands Township. The final criteria was achieved by visiting with students and serving as a teaching assistant for a week at MacArthur Ninth Grade campus of Aldine ISD, a title 1 school.
“Through these efforts, I’ve learned so much,” Cromley said. “I’ve learned how to gain strength physically and mentally and I’ve learned the importance and impact of helping others through my service activities. These opportunities have helped me learn about my community and myself, and I feel I’ve grown as a person because of them. It feels really good to impact others.” Cromley, who will begin her senior year at Cooper this fall and would like to pursue the study of social work at the college level.
Masuelli, a Cooper Pioneer, meaning he attended Cooper consecutively from kindergarten through 12th grade, gained his public service hours primarily by his outreach efforts through The Woodlands chapter of National Charity Roundtable, a non-profit organization in which young men work with their parents in the community serving area philanthropies. He volunteered at the Bridgewood Farms Thrift Shop, the Interfaith Food Pantry and the Tamina Community Center’s after-school program. He also worked with youth at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, doing curatorial work and leading tours. In addition to regularly working out at the gym, Masuelli shares a love of long distance bike riding with his dad to keep fit.
Masuelli, who will major in systems engineering and economics at The University of Pennsylvania in the fall, fulfilled the personal growth aspect for the award by taking art classes in oil painting plus voice and music theory lessons that led him to join the school choir in tenth grade and continued through his senior year. “I enjoyed the charity work because I simply enjoy helping people in our community,” he said. “And it was a nice form of self expression to pursue additional opportunities in the arts.”