MAHOMET — Ellen Bushell and Jordan Veldman have a good reason to be proud of themselves. The two Mahomet-Seymour High School students were named to the 26-member 2019 Good Citizens Award Program provided by the Alliance Chapter of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution and the Piankeshaw Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, which recognized two members from 13 area high schools.
Their reaction? Utter shock.
"I had no idea what it was," Bushell joked. "I had to look it up and I was like, 'What is this? Why is my name on this?'"
"I didn't honestly know that it was a thing," Veldman added. "When someone told me to look up the link, I looked it up and saw my name and I wasn't sure what the award stood for, but when people explained it to me, I felt good about myself."
The selection of Bushell and Veldman, however, was no surprise to M-S Principal Shannon Cheek.
"When you look at these two students, Jordan and Ellen, in my opinion, the choice is outstanding," Cheek said. "Both of these individuals are great leaders and mentors in our building."
For Cheek, the two seniors set the standard for excellence at the high school.
"Both students represent what we look for in our kids — hardworking, dedicated to their schools, dedicated to the improvement of their schools," he added. "(I'm) just really proud of both of them. I couldn't be more excited about the selections."
The award certainly added an extra pep in their step.
"It was really nice and it was honoring," Bushell said.
"I guess that means I did something right," Veldman added. "Going out your senior year, that's kind of a cool thing to have to say to people."
Both were voted by M-S staff and teachers, but Bushell said a link was also sent out to the entire student body getting them to select two students from six nominees, three boys and three girls.
As to why they were personally selected? Bushell has her suspicions it all came down to getting her name out there.
"I'm involved in a lot of different activities, so I think there's a wide range of people that know me, so maybe that's it." Bushell said. "I'm in FFA, lit mag, drama, marching band and the freshmen mentoring program."
Veldman on the other hand named his teachers as the culprits.
"I have pretty good relationships with most of the teachers, like CDR (coach Dan Ryan). He teaches some of the honor courses," he said.
But the senior also is heavily involved as a student-athlete, playing baseball, basketball and football.
"The coaches get you out there and talk about your leadership skills," Veldman added. "I think that has to do with it."
Regardless of who put their names in the running, both Bushell and Veldman are elated at the recognition.
"It represents that people recognize that I'm a leader here, and how they think that I'm just all around nice to everyone," Bushell said. "You're a good leader and everyone really respects you and you're nice so that's really nice to get that."
For Veldman, the award simply reaffirmed his faith commitment.
"I'm a Christian and a big part of that is being a good citizen and treating people fairly and loving on people," Veldman said. "I guess this just kind of bolstered my faith knowing that people do take recognition because sometimes it's hard. You're like, 'Do people really notice the little things you do?' But this showed that they do."
The Bulldogs were enshrined with the other 2019 Good Citizens last Friday at the Champaign Country Club. Bushell plans to study agriculture communications at the University of Illinois next fall, and Veldman will go to bat for Bourbonnais' Olivet Nazarene University's baseball team but is still undecided about a major.
For now, the seniors are simply basking in the limelight.
"A lot of my friends were really nice about it," Bushell said. "Everyone's been really nice about it, so it's been nice."
For Veldman, the award ends his senior year on a positive note.
"One of my best friends (Dawson Finch) was also one of the final three," Veldman added, "so it's kind of a cool experience to talk about how we both were up there and able to have a high school legacy of being good people."