Barons Recognized by Duke of Edinburgh’s International Awards

This November, Coach and Instructor Lisa Westergard was invited to Washington D.C., where she enjoyed a VIP Tour of the White House, met with His Majesty’s Ambassador to the U.S. Dame Karen Pierce, and was presented with the International Volunteer of the Year Award by Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Forfar. 

Annika Blomster ’21, our first Gold Award Recipient from Saint Mary’s Hall, was also recognized along with twenty-one other 14 to 24 year-olds from across the United States as they received their Gold and Silver Duke of Edinburgh’s International Awards from the prince. 

The inspirational group, which spans 35 states, received their Awards following their exceptional perseverance, commitment to community and involvement in out-of-classroom learning. Collectively they have dedicated more 22,000 hours to their development and supported communities through more than 5,870 hours of voluntary service through the Award.     

“Leading and cultivating a program as distinguished as The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a mighty and lofty task,” shared Dr. Liz Stockdale, Head of Upper School at Saint Mary’s Hall.  “Ms. Lisa Westergard exemplifies the patience, compassion, vulnerability, and integrity required to support students as they encounter the world beyond Saint Mary’s Hall and discover their passions. Adolescents feel strength and competence when they know they have been challenged and have achieved high expectations. The program that Ms. Westergard mentors on our campus communicates these high expectations and empowers students to reach their potential. It is an honor to be her colleague and witness her incredible work in this program and beyond.” 

When congratulating the recipients of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, Prince Edward remarked, “I’m sure there were times when you wondered why you were doing it. I certainly remember wondering why when doing my Gold Award, it was about half-way through the Adventurous Journey. But now that it’s over, I hope you can savor that sense of satisfaction and, looking back, feel that it was not only an enjoyable experience, but also a worthwhile one. Most importantly, you have discovered that there is more in you than you think.” 

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is a global, personalized youth development program for 14- to 24-year-olds that complements formal classroom learning and focuses on setting progressive goals that build essential life skills such resilience, confidence, creativity, leadership, civic competence, and communication. There are three progressive levels – Bronze, Silver and Gold. Each challenges young people to develop new skills, get physically active, cultivate a sense of adventure in the outdoors, volunteer in their communities, and step outside their comfort zone.   

The organization is the world’s leading youth achievement program, which has been running since 1956 and operates in over 130 countries and territories with over one million global participants.