Penelope (Hall) Przekop established the Be Courageous Award at Northwood High School in Shreveport, LA to spotlight the value of personal courage and the profound impact it has not only on the path our lives take but also on the quality of that life. Beginning with the graduating class of 2018, a scholarship has been awarded annually to a selected senior. The primary intent of the award is to support the recipient’s career goals as well as to educate and inspire the recipient, other applicants, and the broader community.
The 2022 Scholarship Award will be $1000.00.
How is the recipient selected?
Applicants are asked to write an essay addressing one of five prompts. What makes this award unique, is that the recipient is not selected based on grade point average or extracurricular activities. Instead, the selection process focuses on three elements:
John and Penelope Hall were siblings who graduated from Northwood in 1983 and 1984, respectively. John, older and more naturally confident in high school, was a lifelong inspiration to Penelope. She struggled internally as a young adult and ultimately survived a suicide attempt at age 19. After three days in an Intensive Care Unit, Penelope walked out with the best smile she could muster and spent the next 25 years seeking to understand what led her to that terrible decision and mustering the courage to continue moving forward. Then one shocking summer night in 2012, 47-year-old John walked out of his home, faced the American flag hanging on his porch, and pulled the trigger that ended his life.
Following John’s death, as Penelope processed her grief, she was able to more fully accept and understand the childhood they shared, as well as how each ultimately internalized their experiences. Through her exploration, Penelope realized that hope may not be the most powerful message after all.
Having hope did not save her at 19, and lack of hope was not what ultimately led John to pull the trigger. It was courage … courage in the absence of hope and in the presence of fear. When lost, hope is out there, somewhere, often invisible, nebulous, or abstract. Like “rainbows and butterflies,” hope is a lovely thing we search for, longing to see and understand. It’s a clue we want someone to give or show us. What happens when no one is there?
Hope can fade, be dashed, and the more it lets us down, the harder it is to find again. Personal courage is within. We can dig it out ourselves. It’s not always easy and isn’t usually fun. It can require inching through the dark in the worst possible conditions, not knowing what will happen next. But it moves us forward, even in our loneliest moments. It’s gritty and real. Courage never lets us down. It carries us to a new place, and it's often there that we find the hope we thought we’d lost.
"Little by little, one travels far." - J.R.R. Tolkien
Caige wrote an inspiring essay, My Story of Courage.
Donations to support the Be Courageous Award are greatly appreciated!
Send donations to:
The Be Courageous Award
C/O Northwood High School
5939 Old Mooringsport Road
Shreveport, LA 71107
Make checks payable to Northwood High School.
Indicate that the donation is for the Be Courageous Award directly on the check.