School Award Medal Program for youth

Youth are often awarded for their scholastic achievements, but The American Legion believes they should also be praised when they demonstrate strong qualities of character and good citizenship. That's why, since 1926, the Legion has recognized such students with its School Award Medal Program.

In 1921, the Department of Pennsylvania created the School Award Medal Program for the purpose of instilling character and helping perpetuate the ideals of Americanism among youth. The award is given to a boy and a girl in the graduating classes of elementary school, junior and senior high school, and college. Those who receive a medal must exemplify six qualities that define character: courage, honor, leadership, patriotism, scholarship and service.

Candidates for the award are voted upon by a school's faculty and members of the candidates graduating class through a secret ballot casting. The local Legion post involved with the school makes the final selection upon receiving recommendation from students and faculty. Each awardee receives a certificate and a medal with the six qualities listed on the face of the medal, as the back bears the Marine Corps motto, "Semper Fidelis" ("always faithful").

The program's success for the past 90-plus years has been prominent. In its first year, 145 students received medals and in 2013, more than 18,000 were awarded medals. And every year the department with the strongest activity in the School Award Medal Program receives the Ralph T. O'Neil Education Trophy, named for The American Legion's 1930 national commander.

Now that the 2014 - 2015 school year is in session, Legion posts are encouraged to visit local schools to promote the program and its awards. Download a brochure on The American Legion School Award Medal Program by clicking here.



  1. I won this award in 7th Grade (a medallion) and 8th Grade (Ribbon/Medallion) at LaGrange, MO Jr, High. I remember Jess Dickerson presented the medal both times. Was thinking about Mr. Dickerson recently (long passed away); have fond memories of him; very fine man; attended my father's church back then. Still have both medals in our safe deposit box. I cherish them both and am humbled and honored that folks thought so highly of me at a young age.
  2. This award was presented to me at my graduation in 1952. Was very honored to receive it. Many thanks to the American Legion. My husband served in Korea, but sadly is deceased at this time. Have a wonderful son-in-law who found the information for me. God Bless America!
  3. Is there a record of past American Legion Medal winners? My Brother George Spenik and Sister Mary Spenik both won the award when the attended Windber High School in Pennyslvania years ago.
  4. I won this American Legion School Award in the medallion-in-box format with the engraved certificate on 24 June 1984, James Shields (Middle) School in Chicago, Illinois. The award was sponsored by the Darius-Girenas Post No. 271. At the time, I was sorely disappointed I did not win the other award (based on scholarship alone) presented at our 8th grade graduation. Thirty years later, I am amazed at realizing that all of my classmates deemed me the most patriotic member of our class. I found this out at a 30-year class reunion in which I was told by the other award recipient that after six 'finalists' [3 boys and 3 girls] were named and escorted out of the classroom (I vaguely remember this), every remaining student nominated me for the award!! What a sweet and humbling experience to find this out three decades later.
  5. Our grandson, Patrick Henry (if ever there was a name of a patriot)Farrelly just received this award upon his graduation from Jane Ryan Elementary in Trumbull, CT. We are all very proud of him. He is a character "with character". Papa Tom and Nana Sue
  6. Hello, I am looking for the person or family who received a School Award in 1922 from Inyo County Post 118 Bishop California. I bought this metal on eBay and would like to return to the recipient or their family. This I believe is one of the 140 metals given out the first year of the School Award program, as it is a 1922 metal. Engraving on the rim indicates, post 118 Inyo County California. I live in Independence California and can be found on Facebook, please message me if you know any thing about this metal.
  7. My grandson, a high school graduate, just won this prestigious award yesterday, and I would tell him and anyone else receiving the American Legion Award that this honor is far greater than any monetary reward for accrued achievements in that, you can buy an education, but you cannot buy character. That's something individuals must develop for themselves with the help of God and family.
  8. I won the American Legion Award when I graduated from 8th grade in 1971 from Levering Elementary School in Philadelphia, PA. I still have my certificate but don't have the pin. Does anyone know how I could replace that pin?
  9. You can go to the nearest Post with whatever evidence you have. Talk to whoever does the school awards program. They should be able to help you. I'm working on our awards for presentation this month and next. Mike Dinger, Sgt -At-Arms , Man O'War Post #8,Lexington, Kentucky.
  10. Hello everybody. I am 92 years young and received what we simply called 'The American Legion Award' when I graduated elementary school at Mills Home Baptist Orphanage in Thomasville, NC. I gave my medal to my baby house girl friend whom I told inspired me!!! I have tried over the years to find out if a record would go back that far so I might show all my family what I have told them I received. Please post if you know of a source directly that might be able to find about this.
  11. I received my award from the Wm D Oxley Post 133 in Philadelphia in May of 1958. I graduated from 8th grade at Disston Elementary School. It was such a great honor for me as well as my family.i am now 70 years old and a 20 year veteran of the U.S. Air Force/Oregon Air National Guard. Although I don't have a certificate, I still cherish my medal and hope that I have made the American Legion proud.
  12. I believe my brother or I was awarded this award in Wenatchee Washington in about 1979 thru 1984. Post 10 had a fire since, so the Post Historians records were lost. My mother just found the medal in a nice little A.L medal box with no certificate. Is there a record at the State or National level of all A.L. Medals awarded?
  13. Contact the school because the counselors are the ones who contact us at the Post. They provide us with the names of the students. Or try your Department, and maybe a classmate. We usually don't turn names in to Department. Mike Dinger, Sgt -At-Arms, Man O'War Post #8, Lexington, Kentucky.
  14. Luigi Angulo graduating class of 1985 of Salipuedes Junior High was awarded this honor for scholastic and citizenship
  15. I won this award my eighth grade year, and it was such a huge honor that really boosted my self-esteem. I'd like to say thanks to everyone involved in this program.
  16. My son just received the American Legion award from our local post. His mother, grandparents and I couldn't be more proud of him. My son and I feel very honored to be recognized by such an outstanding organization. Semper Fidelis, words to live by. Thanks again
  17. I found out this afternoon that I along with six other students were nominated for this award. We will find out at our 8th Grade Graduation who won! I feel amazing!
  18. I have been nominated also and can not wait to find out the winner
  19. Me again! I just won the award! Today was the graduation ceremony! I'd like to thank Post #1983 for this huge honor!
  20. I am lucky enough to have two legion organizations within my school district. One gives this award to 8th graders and the other to 12th graders. Each year one girl and one boy at each grade receives the award. As a middle school principal, I have always been so proud to have the opportunity to recognize these students in this way. We make it a "big deal" to receive this award and students chosen feel very honored. I am so thankful this is available.
  21. I got one of these award May 21 1943 from the Dixon Mo. consolidated school. from the American Post Liesmann Robert Post 298. Mind does not look like this one. Mind has a Soldier and Sailor on it.Also FOR GOD & COUNTRY On one side.
  22. I have one that was given to me in 1968. It was just a blur back then but going thru some boxes we found my "coin" and got interested in what it really means and want to find out more about it.
  23. Where is the link to the program brochure? Might make sense to have a link on this page. Just saying.
  24. Oh, it's there. Might make sense to look at the end of the post. Just saying.
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