From a 17-year-old high school basketball star to a couple of 7-year-old classroom leaders, six students from Orangeburg Consolidated School Districts 3, 4 and 5 have served as outstanding examples of how to display the Golden Rule.
Their willingness to eliminate their own feelings to achieve a proper balance of conflicting interests from the basketball court to the playground have earned each of them the designation as the exemplification of fairness for the month of March as part of Orangeburg County's Community of Character Initiative.
This month's honorees include Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School senior Brittany Sumpter, 17; Holly Hill-Roberts High School junior Stovesha Oliver, 16; Edisto High School junior Mykela Preyer, 16; 7-year-old Edisto Primary School first-graders Kaelin Britt and Tyrin Void and Mellichamp Elementary School fifth-grader Erin Perry, 10.
"We felt like it was a good opportunity to spotlight some of our youth," said Terry Boone, co-chair of the initiative's Business and Industry Committee. Boone said the initiative has representatives in each of the three school districts, where nominations were gathered from guidance counselors and teachers.
"I've never gotten an award like this. I try to treat people as equally as I can. You have to have that instilled within you in order to be successful on the court," said Sumpter, who has served as a top senior guard for the O-W Bruinettes.
Oliver is student body vice president and secretary of the Future Business Leaders of America at HH-R. She said she was shocked and honored by the designation. Oliver said she tries to demonstrate impartiality in dealing with her peers, particularly in meetings.
"In meetings, there is always a conflict. You have to be fair … when you're the mediator. It is very important because you're going to have harsh feelings toward you if you're not. You have to put personal feelings aside and display fairness by looking at all sides," Oliver said.
Preyer is a JROTC member at Edisto High School, where she tries to set an example in that program and among her peers.
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"I think fairness plays a very important role in life. I think it's one of the best steps toward success and includes treating everyone how you'd want to be treated. The best example for me is being in my JROTC program, where we demonstrate fairness between the cadets and the instructors," Preyer said.
Void says taking turns during games and sharing with friends are ways she "gets everyone to be nice to each other" in her first grade class.
Britt said she makes it a point to play with other students if they're lonely at recess and helps others who are in need.
"I share my crayons, scissors and glue and give them everything that they don't have even without permission. Fairness is treating people the way you would like to be treated," Britt said.
Perry has been a peer mentor and is now an assistant to the curriculum coordinator at Mellichamp Elementary School. She said treating everyone the same and helping her classmates with their school work, particularly math, science and language arts, are ways she displays fairness.
"Fairness means treating other people equally. According to the Bible, if you say you love God, you can't turn around and say you don't like someone else. You have to love everyone else like Jesus loves you," Perry said.