Plaster earns Congressional Award


AVONDALE — Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy (TJCA) junior Hunter Plaster is not afraid of hard work. Whether it’s in the classroom or on the basketball court, Plaster is someone who gives 110%. 

While Plaster is no stranger to accomplishments, he recently earned a distinction that not many can claim. Plaster has earned the Congressional Award Silver Medal as well as the Congressional Award Bronze Medal. 

To earn these awards, Plaster completed over 200 hours of voluntary public service, 100 hours of personal development, and 100 hours of physical fitness.

Plaster used several avenues to give back to the community as part of his volunteer service. One of the first things he did was adopt a street in Shelby and picked up trash on that street every weekend for two years. He also organized a letter-writing campaign for active-duty military personnel. Hunter went to a local elementary school and discussed the importance of this program with students and in turn, those students, along with members of Hunter’s church as well as family members, wrote letters to military personnel through Operation Gratitude. He also volunteered at the Shelby Farmer’s Market where he helped educate kids on what the farmer’s market is and its’ value.

As part of the personal development element, Hunter wanted to make himself a better leader which is evident by his involvement in extracurricular activities at school including the student council and academic team. He also wanted to become more involved at church and improve his historical knowledge, not only for the academic team but also as a personal hobby. One way he did this was by taking multiple online classes through the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and Hillsdale College. He has also read and studied several historical books. 

TJCA Academic Team Coach Kimberly Lloyd offered high praise for what Plaster brings to the Academic Team. 

“Hunter has been a standout player on the high school academic team for the past three years,” said Lloyd. “He is our premier "history player" and helped lead the team to its second national title as the National History Bowl and Bee Small School Champions last year.”

For the physical fitness requirement, Hunter has been a member of the TJCA high school basketball program for three years, including the last two on varsity. TJCA head varsity basketball coach Steven Jones has seen Plaster’s leadership skills develop firsthand. 

Hunter is a tremendous leader and demonstrates a work ethic rarely seen among individuals his age,” said Jones. “I’ve been lucky enough to see Hunter’s leadership abilities exemplified through athletics. Hunter is able to withstand and conquer any extreme adversity that arises through sports. He embodies the ideal teammate. There’s no doubt in my mind that the leadership traits Hunter possesses will lead to future success in anything he wishes to pursue.”

The journey Plaster has been on to earn the Congressional Awards has made a positive impact on him. 

“It’s definitely helped me develop as a leader,” said Plaster. “It’s allowed me to become more involved in my community and actually make a difference whether it is by cleaning streets or giving a message to brighten someone’s day. It has just helped me become more well-rounded and more complete as a person.” 

While Hunter is thankful to receive both the silver and bronze medals, he has aspirations of earning the gold medal as well, which requires even more hours of service.