Falmouth student wins leadership award from National WWII Museum

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FALMOUTH — Charlotte Doughty, a junior at Falmouth High School, is headed to New Orleans this week to pick up a prestigious award from the National WWII Museum.

Doughty is the Maine winner of the Billy Michal Student Leadership Award, which is given “to one student in every state who has maintained a strong record of volunteerism … and implement(ed) creative solutions to recognized problems,” the museum said in a press release.

Each honoree is flown to New Orleans to participate in the museum’s American Spirit Awards program June 7 and 8.

“It’s extremely gratifying to recognize students throughout the nation for the wonderful contributions they make to their local communities,” said Stephen J. Watson, president of the museum. “During World War II, our country needed everyone to come together for a common goal of securing freedom and democracy around the world … (now) our student honorees prove that their positive actions, no matter how big or small, can make a difference.”

Doughty is being honored for teaching dance to disadvantaged youth and for founding the Falmouth Giving Trees program, which raises funds for the Falmouth Education Foundation while re-purposing holiday trees into mulch, the museum said.

“It’s humbling to win (this) award,” Doughty said, adding it “has a special place in my heart given that two of my great uncles served during the Battle of the Bulge, while my great-grandfather worked as a shipbuilder in South Portland.”

Doughty, who was nominated for the award by Deb Hjort, a social studies teacher at Falmouth High School, said, “I have never been to New Orleans and am excited to visit the National World War II Museum, as well as explore the French Quarter.

“I am very much looking forward to meeting the other recipients from around the country and am also excited to meet the medallion recipients … including Bernice Falk Haydu, the first woman to fly military aircraft … in World War II,” Doughty said.

She’s been dancing since the age of 2 and takes lessons in “many different types of dance,” including, modern, contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, ballet and tap. Doughty first started teaching at 12, when she volunteered to be part of the Portland Youth Dance Company’s outreach program.

Through the dance company she teaches hip-hop to kids from 5 to 18.

What Doughty most enjoys about teaching is helping her students “gain a strong sense of pride and accomplishment (by) learning a dance routine and performing it in front of an audience. I (also like to) impress upon the children a strong sense of teamwork, while fostering an environment of belonging and inclusiveness.”

She started the tree program last year, “after seeing all of the holiday trees on the side of the road (waiting) to be picked up by the trash collector (and) wondering if there was a way to re-purpose them.”

With “tree-cycling,” Doughty said, she could not only help raise money for the Falmouth Education Foundation, but the trees could be re-purposed into bark mulch for town parks and other public areas. She called it “a real win-win.”

“I love giving back to my community, which has given so much to me,” Doughty said. “I really enjoy helping others, celebrating cultural differences and being a good global citizen.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Charlotte Doughty, a Falmouth High School junior who’s been dancing since the age of 2, this week heads to New Orleans to pick up a student leadership award from the National WW II Museum.