Jendrusina honored with Congressional Award Gold Medal


Alissa Pietila/Daily Globe

REP. DAN Benishek, left, places the Congressional Award Gold Medal on James Jendrusina at A.D. Johnston High School in Bessemer on Wednesday. Mary and Bruce Jendrusina, James' parents, look on.

BESSEMER - U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, who serves Michigan's First District, awarded a Congressional Award Gold Medal to A.D. Johnston senior James Jendrusina on Wednesday.

After a short introduction by principal Dan VanderVelden, Benishek stood in front of the gym, filled with Bessemer students and administration, and spoke about self-improvement and serving the community.

"You need to have the commitment to better yourself and give back to your community," Benishek said.

The Congressional Award Gold Medal is awarded to 14- to 23-year-olds across the United States who work toward personal development, physical fitness, volunteer public service and expedition and exploration.

Jendrusina has completed over 1,000 hours of volunteer public service as well as 500 hours towards personal development. He also made a 5-day trek at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Bayfield, Wis.

According to the award's website, "This is not an award for past accomplishments. Instead, you are honored for achieving your own challenging goals."

Benishek said to win the award, youths must apply, but there are no grade point requirements. Most of the awards are given to those who spend time helping the community.

"I encourage you all to think about that - what you can do for your communities, what you can do to give back," he said.

Benishek then awarded the medal to Jendrusina, as his parents, Bruce and Mary Jendrusina, looked on.

After the presentation of the medal, a pep rally was held to honor the Quiz Bowl and varsity boys' basketball teams.

Science teacher Dave Rowe, who coaches the Quiz Bowl teams, introduced the four main players, all seniors - Alex Hooyman, Valerie Rowe, Daniel Trekas and Molly Wieringa. Rowe also acknowledged the alternates and additional students who help the team practice and prepare.

Rowe said to the crowd, "Your support means a lot to everyone on the team. We have a good thing going in Bessemer."

The cheerleaders led those in attendance in a cheer for the academic team, chanting, "Go Quiz Bowl, everybody yell 'Go Quiz Bowl!'"

The Quiz Bowl team competes today at Gogebic Community College, before heading to face Escanaba on Friday in Marquette.

The varsity boys' basketball team was also called to the front by coach Jim Partanen, who encouraged everyone to attend the district game in Wakefield on Wednesday against Ewen-Trout Creek.

VenderVelden closed the program and said, "Good luck to our Quiz Bowl team and our basketball team, and congratulations to James."

For more information about the Congressional Awards, visit


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