This I Believe

Kitana - Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Entered on May 30, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

Kitana Swanson

This I Believe…

I believe in discipline, compassion, responsibility, integrity, courage, and leadership. I’m a 14 year old student at an outward bound school, and these character traits have helped me succeed, not only in school, but in life. As an 8th grader in a “crew” of 6th, 7th and 8th graders, my role is to be a leader. I will admit I’m not a leader 24/7 but this is only because I believe that my younger classmates need to learn and grow from experience. However, as part of my final contribution to my middle school crew, I did work hard to demonstrate responsibility and leadership skills by planning our spring 2006 backpacking trip. I showed responsibility by using maps of the Colorado State Forest to plan a route, mathematically finding the miles we needed to hike each day to reach that evening’s campground and tabulate the total miles of the trip. Other trip planning needs I considered while planning the route included access to water, layout of the terrain, and elevation. I showed leadership by helping the 6th and 7th graders organize their packs, practice setting up and tearing down their tents, and giving them tips on how to make the trip as safe and enjoyable as possible.

I believe that for every action there is a reaction and this is where integrity is crucial. Over the years, I have learned to take accountability for my actions. Last year, in 7th grade, I accidentally hit one of my teachers with a “wasp.” (A wasp is a folded up piece of paper that you fling using a rubber band and its impact feels like a bee-sting.) None of my classmates knew that I had done it, but my whole crew was about to be penalized for my mistake. Even though I was nearly petrified, I worked up the courage to confess that I’d flung the wasp at a classmate and missed. I felt it was important to admit my guilt so that others would not be punished for my actions.

As a citizen, I believe that responsibility is big. I know a few people who don’t vote – and that’s their choice – but it’s important to me because I am living under these laws. If there is a bill that I don’t agree with or I don’t want to live under, I will take a stand instead of complaining. Complaints don’t promote change. Even though I’m a teen, there are still ways I can take action. Because I’ve learned to take responsibility even in times where it requires a lot of courage (as in the “wasp” situation) I can commit myself to participate in attempting changing public policy by calling one of my state’s representatives. That is why the character traits of responsibility, integrity, courage, and leadership are important to me.