Two Havelock High students have been named semifinalists for the 2014 Military Child of the Year Award.
Lizzie McClenney, a freshman, and Noah Paley, a sophomore, are among the 31 semifinalists selected for the Marine Corps.
The nonprofit organization Operation Homefront sponsors the award.
Paley said her grandmother nominated her for the award.
“I was really excited,” Paley said of being named a semifinalist. “It happened when my dad was in Afghanistan, but it was something that we could share.”
Her father has since returned from Afghanistan.
“I was able to be there with my mom and family when he got back, and it was very emotional,” she said. “I’m glad he’s back.”
Paley served as a team manager for the Havelock High wrestling team and is also involved in marching band at the school, but her community service extends beyond the walls of the school.
“I’ve done a lot with helping groups of military kids,” she said.
Finalists are scheduled to be announced in March, with each one receiving $5,000 and a trip to Washington for a recognition ceremony in April.
“We’re all just crossing our fingers and hoping for the best,” she said.
Paley said she has allowed her mind to think about being named a finalist.
“It would be amazing,” she said. “I would get to bring my dad along. It would be absolutely incredible.”
McClenney said she wasn’t exactly sure how she got selected as a semifinalist.
“It just kind of happened,” she said.
McClenney is involved in the band color guard at Havelock High, and has also been involved in cheerleading and soccer. She is consistently on the honor roll and has received some art awards.
She said she learn she had become a semifinalist when people began calling her phone asking questions about it.
“I was confused,” she said. “People kept calling my phone and asking for my dad, but he’s deployed. It was weird, and then my mom got a call, and it was like, ‘wow.’ It’s pretty cool.”
The Military Child of the Year award is designed to honor children who demonstrate resilience, leadership and strength of character, and thrive while being raised in a military lifestyle that can involve parent deployments and frequent moves.
Operation Homefront is based out of San Antonio, Texas, and is designed to provide assistance to military families in need, to help wounded military personnel in their recoveries and to recognize the sacrifices and accomplishments of military families.