Guest Column: Citizenship

Brooke DeRuwe

My favorite color combination is red, white and blue. You will find all three colors in the flag of the United States of America, which is where I call home. The white in our flag stands for purity and innocence, the red is for valor and the blue is for perseverance and justice. The stripes represent our country’s beginning, and the stars display the pride we have in our 50 states. When I see our flag, I see citizenship. We all live together in our community, and we all must be good neighbors. We must get involved to help our community, we must protect the environment and volunteer our time. We must respect authority and obey the laws and rules.

Both of my parents are police officers and have raised me to be a good citizen. They are my role models and always encourage me to give back to my community. I love police and understand that they are doing their best with one of the toughest jobs. They defend the Constitution, but I have seen the other side, when they come home after a rough day, experiencing things no one should. Their sacrifice, service and dedication can be seen in the United States flag worn on their uniforms, and displayed on their patrol cars. The flag is a simple reminder of the importance of citizenship.

As the ASB Treasurer at Central Valley High School, I try to lead by example. I work hard to give back to my school community. It is important for all of us to respect the environment, so I dedicate time as a board member of the Green Team; a student-led club focusing on reducing the carbon footprint of our community. We spend time in our community garden, ultimately providing food for those less fortunate. We coordinate the recycle campaign to encourage less waste at our school and routinely host campus clean-ups to keep our school healthy and clean.

Citizenship is also about being a good neighbor. Not just your next door neighbor, but supporting all of our community members, regardless of our differences. Unified Sports is an important way to give back and be that good neighbor. I love the time I have spent playing sports and creating relationships with special needs students who aren’t always included. I know that I don’t add much in the way of athletic abilities, but my smile seems to be contagious and my spirit is always on full speed. When I walk onto the basketball court or the soccer field and hear my name with excitement, it is clear to me why I dedicate my time to helping students feel great about themselves.

As I wander the halls of my school, often wearing red, white and blue, I keep a smile on my face. I hope that one day my smile will help someone in need or change someone’s bad day into good. Giving back to others is important and a trait of being a good citizen; whether it is working in the community garden, working with my peers in and out of school, or finding those in need to give a helping hand, it is important to remember why. Many kids are struggling to find themselves and to choose the right path. Citizenship is about helping and supporting peers and community members through the ups and downs of life.

Brooke DeRuwe is a senior at Central Valley High School who has been awarded multiple PACE character traits of the month, including the 2012 student of the year at Greenacres Elementary. She is the ASB Treasurer at Central Valley and is involved in Unified Sports, Key Club, Green Team and Honor Society. Brooke is an active volunteer with the Spokane Police Department and the Salvation Army. She was the Young Philanthropist of the Year in 2017, awarded by United Way, for all of her community service and citizenship.