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Ladue High School's student news site

Ladue Publications

Ladue High School's student news site

Ladue Publications

Going for Gold

Gianna Francis wins Congressional Award
Vincent Hsiao
Gianna Francis (12) holds up her Congressional Award Gold Medal in her home Feb. 5. Francis won the award in January after four years of hard work and determination. “I finally got it,” Francis said. “Everything submitted. Everything’s in order. It was just a big sigh of relief.”
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In January, it came by mail: an official gold medal engraved with the words “Service, Achievement, Initiative,” stamped with a U.S. seal and nestled into foam in an elegant, two-layered box. For Gianna Francis (12), this medal means more than a decoration on her bedroom wall. It means months of physical exercise and personal development, 400 volunteer and community service hours and four years of hard work. Francis had achieved a goal that she’d been working toward since ninth grade, winning the Congressional Award Gold Medal.

“It was a big time commitment,” Francis said. “You don’t have to [win the award] before you graduate high school, but you do have to put in the time to get it done, and you have to be committed.”

To meet the requirements for the award, Francis became chair of her Black affinity group, played sports like water polo and swimming and planned two five-day expeditions to Hawaii and Colorado.

“I stayed motivated because I [wanted] to get credit for [my work],” Francis said. “[Winning the award] has helped me because you have a goal that you’re working towards. As you’re helping your resume grow [and] as you’re finding connections within the community, you’re also focused on yourself. All of these things that you’re doing are going to help you later in life.”

Personal motivation wasn’t the only thing that propelled Francis to win the medal. She found support from her parents and Ladue Middle School teacher Donna Matthews, who has sponsored Francis since her freshman year. Matthews was able to see the perseverance that Francis displayed through their close relationship.

“Gianna doesn’t let anything get in her way,” Matthews said. “Her determination [and] ability to see how her talents outweigh her struggles is super beautiful. She makes it look easy, and you can’t always tell how hard she’s working.”

Francis feels more students could benefit from this opportunity since it helped her succeed. 

“More people need to know about this award,” Francis said. “It’s a great opportunity. A lot of people already have the potential to [do it]. If it’s something you want to pursue, then go ahead and take the risk. Take the chance.”

When Francis won the Congressional Award, it felt like a culmination of all her hard work, a sentiment that Matthews shared.

“[I found out she won] from the district page,” Matthews said. “She did it, and everyone now knows. I can just imagine all the times we’ve talked and how that’s built up to this one apex in life. Gianna Francis has done this, and she really can do anything.” 

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About the Contributors
Ira Rodrigues
Ira Rodrigues, Staff
Ira Rodrigues is a sophomore staff member on Panorama. This is her first year on staff. Ira loves reading, watching old movies, and anything chocolate.
Vincent Hsiao
Vincent Hsiao, Photo Editor in Chief
Sophomore Vincent Hsiao is the photography editor in chief for Panorama. He was previously a staff photographer for Ladue Publications where he significantly contributed to photos in both the Panorama newsmagazine and Rambler yearbook. Outside of photography, Hsiao is on the Ladue swim team and has been a swimmer since he was six.
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