Schreiber HS senior earns Congressional Award Gold Medal

Schreiber HS senior earns Congressional Award Gold Medal
Dru Czarkowski, Schreiber High School Class of 2023. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Vulin - Port Washington School District)

After 400 hours of voluntary public service, 200 hours of personal development, 200 hours of physical fitness and a five-day, four-night expedition over three years, Schreiber High School senior Czarkowski earned the Congressional Award Gold Medal.

The Congressional Award Gold Medal is awarded by the United States Congress to teenagers and young adults in order for them “to unleash their potential by achieving personal goals focused on volunteerism, character development and fitness,” according to the program’s website.

Czarkowski described the honor as a “community-based award” which got him more attuned to the Port Washington community through the service he did.

This was an aspect he loved, as he said he was able to learn the ins and outs of the community and gain a stronger appreciation of his hometown.

Czarkowski, who started working toward the medal his freshman year of high school, finished his pursuit last year while he was a junior.

To achieve his 200-hour goal of volunteerism, Czarkowski volunteered with the Port Washington not-for-profit organization Be The Best Sport, which provides adapted sports programs for special needs.

For three hours every Saturday morning, Czarkowski would be there assisting the participants to develop their social skills and keep them physically active.

“I helped build them up so they can use those skills in our community and be a part of Port Washington,” Czarkowski said.

During the pandemic, Czarkowski also delivered meals to healthcare workers. He said this was special as he was not only supporting healthcare workers during a highly stressful and tolling time, but was also supporting local businesses that were struggling due to pandemic restrictions.

Czarkowski also participated in climate awareness classes to achieve his award, taking the knowledge he gained from them to then educate younger kids.

“I fell in love with all three of those,” Czarkowski said. “During COVID I was stuck in my house and I wanted to get out and I wanted to do something to help my community. Growing up in Port Washington, I love this community so much and I can never stop talking about Port Washington.”

The graduating senior said he was inspired to pursue the award after his two older brothers earned it, making him the third person in his family to achieve this award.

“As a younger brother, and as a younger sibling, I take pride in my older brothers,”  Czarkowski said. “They introduced me to this award and ever since I was able to start working towards it, it’s really been my No. 1 goal.”

Czarkowski said there were of course struggles in pursuing the award, which took three years of hard work and dedication, but having his older brothers to guide him helped him push through.

Czarkowski’s mother, Kerian Czarkowski, said she is proud and honored for her son in achieving this award.

“We raised these kids in Port Washington and we’re just so happy that they love the community so much that they want to give back the way they do,” Keriann Czarkowski said.

She said she was thankful to Schreiber High School for honoring her son and his award.

While Czarkowski said he has now achieved the award with waves of relief and accomplishment washing over him, but his work is not done yet.

“There’s always something you can do for your community,” Czarkowski said. “I really do want to take care of this community as well as it has for me. Although I might be finished with this award, I know I’m definitely not finished with helping out Port Washington and taking care of it the way it took care of me.”

This summer, Czarkowski will continue to give back to Port as he lifeguards at Manorhaven Pool and offers swimming lessons to local children.

After he walks across the stage and graduates from Schreiber High School this month, he will attend the University of Miami to study health sciences and pursue a career in medicine. He said he hopes to continue his efforts in giving back to his new community in Coral Gables, FL.

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