By Shane Nelson '24
Published in the Arlington Catholic Herald (Nov. 30, 2023)
The Good Knight Award was introduced this school year at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington by Principal Frank Roque to celebrate individuals who have demonstrated “spectacular acts of kindness.” Hearing from faculty and staff about random acts of kindness inspired him to celebrate these moments through the creation of this award.
On Aug. 31, Senior Michael Simonson was the first recipient of the award. He was recognized by Mr. Roque at the conclusion of the first all-school Mass of the school year and was presented with a small Knight figurine as a sign of gratitude from the school community. Over the summer, Simonson wrote a formal letter to members of the O’Connell administration suggesting upgrades to the school to make it more accessible to people with disabilities. The school is in the process of implementing the changes suggested by Simonson, including adding automatic door openers at school entrances.
“The Good Knight Award was a surprise, and it might be one of the greatest honors I have received as a student at Bishop O’Connell,” said Simonson. “It is something I will certainly remember and cherish looking back at my high school career.”
Senior Lora Newman was presented with the second Good Knight Award on Sept. 28. Mr. Roque heard from school bus driver, Mrs. Cathy Carroll, about a heroic act of Newman that took place out in the community. Newman was getting off the O’Connell school bus when a car sped down the road and flipped over. Newman recalled hearing the driver kicking her feet on the roof of the car trying to get out. She ran over to the crashed car and pulled the person out.
“It feels great to see acts of kindness being recognized and celebrated,” Newman said. “I hope that the award inspires other students to act kindly even when no one else is looking.”
Principal Roque is calling on the entirety of the O’Connell community to share these unexpected moments of kindness. “I want us to celebrate these acts of kindness in front of the whole student body as I think when we see it in our peers, we try to emulate it,” he said.
Mr. Roque believes that the informality of the award lends to its overall success. “We have a lot of awards to recognize kids who are good students, but the impetus of this award is to recognize being a good person,” he added.
The award brings a sense of pride to the student body, while also emphasizing the impact these students have on the broader community. Its informality means that rather than being clouded by competitiveness, it drives genuinely random acts of kindness and recognizes them when they happen.