The John & Penelope Hall Defining Courage (aka Be Courageous) Award established in 2018 spotlights 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, $500.00 is awarded annually to a selected senior at Northwood High School in Shreveport, Louisiana. The primary intent is to support the recipient’s career goals as well as to educate and inspire them, the other applicants, and the broader community. Students apply by submitting a video or an essay based on one of several prompts related to understanding and expressing the value that personal courage has, will, and can have in their day to day life, as well as during challenges.
John and Penelope were siblings who graduated from Northwood in 1983 and 1984, respectively. John, older and more naturally confident, was a lifelong inspiration to Penelope. She struggled as a young adult and ultimately survived a suicide attempt at the age of 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 trying to understand what led her to that terrible decision. Then one summer night in 2012, 47-year-old John walked out of his home in Bellingham, Washington, faced the American flag hanging on his porch, and pulled the trigger that ended his life.
As Penelope processed her grief, she was able to more fully accept and understand the childhood she and John shared. She began to piece together how each had internalized their shared experiences and how that process molded their lives. This led her to establish The John & Penelope Hall Defining Courage Award at Northwood High School.
Caige wrote an inspiring essay, My Story of Courage.