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Teens open search for ‘everyday’ heroes

Students at Elizabethton High School want to recognize the “average, everyday” heroes who can be found in CarterMicrosoft Word - CCCitizens.docx County.

To do that, students are asking for nominations from the community for someone who has done something heroic, something that took place in Carter County or benefited a resident or group of people in the county. The heroes will be recognized during a ceremony May 6 at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Elizabethton.

The students organizing the event are in Alex Campbell’s special topics class at Elizabethton High School. The class is focusing on the Medal of Honor and its past recipients. During the lessons, students decided to do something to recognize heroes in Carter County.

Campbell said the students were reading the stories of the past Medal of Honor recipients and felt inspired to do something for the local hero who might not be recognized for what they do.

“Heroes can come from anywhere,” said Amy Cross, student in the class.

These Carter County heroes can be nominated by friends or family, the person that was helped, or they can nominate themselves.

“We want to hear about people who have done acts of selflessness, courageousness, sacrifice or patriotism,” Campbell said. “This could be a lifetime of service or a single event. It could be someone who gets out in the community and volunteers every week, or it could be a person who did something that one time that really made a difference in someone’s life.”

Nominees do not have to live in Carter County as long as their nominated act occurred in Carter County or was done for a county resident.

“We want to honor local people who have been courageous in our community,” Logan Ritchie said.

The students will review and accept applications until the April 23 deadline. Then they will select who will be among the first recipients of the Carter County Citizens Award.

“The students will be making their own decision,” Campbell said. “I think it will be a harder decision than they expect it to be.”

The May 6 recognition service will be open to the public.

The keynote speaker at the ceremony will be Lt. Clebe McClary, retired from the Marine Corps. McClary is a recipient of a Silver Star, Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts and several other awards and recognitions. He was wounded during a battle in the Vietnam war during his 19th reconnaissance mission.

For a short time, it looked like the ceremony might not have a speaker, but the students kept searching and found McClary.

“The scariest part is the uncertainty,” said Jenny Dieffenbacher. “We all wanted to do it, but we did not have a speaker for a while and finally we came across Clebe McClary.”

Students will be volunteering at fundraisers to help cover the cost of the event, and during the ceremony.

A fundraiser is planned for either late April or early May at the Stateline Drive-In. The theme will be Throwback Thursday and “Finding Nemo” will be played. There will be facepainting, balloon animals and a costume contest for children.

Nominations for the Carter County Citizens Medal can be made through email, campbella5@k12tn.net. Paper copies can be picked up and dropped off at EHS. An entry form found at the end of this story can also be used. Applications can be mailed to EHS, 907 Jason Witten Way, Elizabethton to the attention of Alex Campbell.

There is also a Facebook page, Carter County Citizens Medal, where applications can be submitted through a message and new information will be posted.