Megan Woodruff of Washington was honored recently as the 2010 recipient of the Stephen Reich Memorial Award.

The award was presented May 27 during a school-wide assembly in Washington.

The plaque is given annually in memory of Maj. Reich, who graduated from Shepaug Valley High School in 1989 and the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1993.

He was commanding a rescue operation in eastern Afghanistan when his Chinook helicopter was shot down June 28, 2005, killing all 16 aboard.

"The award is given to a Shepaug student who best exemplifies the characteristics Stephen demonstrated: character, leadership, service, and achievement," reads the plaque. "Stephen is remembered as a husband, son, brother, friend, teammate and a true American hero."

On hand as the guest speaker was Drew Bartkiewicz, who grew up in Roxbury, graduated from Shepaug and was a fellow alumnus of West Point.

"While today is both a celebration and recognition," Mr. Bartkiewicz reflected, "it is also a perfect moment to ask yourselves some more challenging questions about the choices you make, for your sake as individuals and collectively for the sake of our citizenry-- a citizenry that so desperately needs leaders like Stephen Reich."

"If `citizenry' is too broad of a term to act upon.. then just act upon making better choices for the citizenry of your town and classmates at Shepaug... just start there."

The 1988 West Point graduate added: "Most great leaders take action in some of the least visible ways, with no recognition in site, but they recognized that every action has a consequence, an intended consequence and sometime one that was unintended."

"You should honor Stephen's memory by committing to be people of consequence here at school, in your home, in your community," Mr. Bartkiewicz told the Shepaug students.

"Being the first to stand for the pledge of allegiance, defending a classmate being made find of, volunteering for a cause, or offering a kind word to someone who needs help," he noted, "are all simple examples of living a life of consequence. Ask yourselves, `do I give enough of myself to others and do I truly pursue my unique abilities that the world so desperately needs?'"

-- Norm Cummings