As 2012 gets under way, American Legion posts are encouraged to visit local schools to promote and award the School Award Medal Program.

The award is given to a boy and a girl in the graduating classes of elementary school, junior and senior high school, and college who uphold the ideals of Americanism and exemplify six qualities: courage, honor, leadership, patriotism, scholarship and service. Each recipient is presented with a certificate and a medal featuring the six qualities.

Additionally, each year the department with the strongest involvement in the use of the School Award Medal Program earns the Ralph T. O’Neil Education Trophy, named in honor of the Legion’s 1930 national commander. The 2011 recipient was the Department of Maryland, whose 147 posts statewide awarded a total of 1,363 medals.

“We try to get our foot in the door at our local schools by making direct contact with teachers and guidance counselors,” said Steve Tatro, adjutant of Calvert Post 85 in Huntingtown, Md. “We educate faculty about the award program, which too opens the lines of communication for the Legion’s other youth programs, such as Boys State and the Oratorical contest.

“And receiving the trophy showed us at the post level that we are on the right track when it comes to supporting our youth and ensuring a brighter future for them.”

Review the School Award Medal brochure to learn more about the program’s specifications and expectations.