Shirlie was an avid reader, a pretty darn good writer (having won the San Jose Mercury youth writing contest several times) and active in extracurricular programs at school. For all the years that I knew her, she had this large medallion on an easel in her display case, along with a photo of her grandmother and her cherished Mexican animal knick-knacks.
The medallion is the American Legion School Award. She got this award when graduating from the eight grade in 1932. It was awarded by the American Legion to students who not only demonstrated scholastic excellence, but also community and patriotic fervor. Awarded to the boy or girl "who best represents those qualities of character and ability, which we believe, when properly cultivated and matured, will result in worthy citizenship and well rounded manhood and womanhood."
This particular medal was designed by R. Tait McKenzie in 1925 and made by Medallic Art Co. of New York. This design was presented to girl awardees until 1951 when the design was changed. There was a different design for boys and a smaller medal attached to a ribbon as well.
According to a 1937 brochure on the School Award program the following short address was used in the declaration of the girl receiving the girl’s medal:
Little lady, in giving you The American Legion School Award, we are conferring upon you an honor which should never be entrusted to anyone but that of the noblest character, highest ideals and the most tender sympathy. The soldiers who fought for you during the World War believe that your mind and soul are of a quality to realize the responsibility that you have in always living and acting by those rules of conduct, and the faith in the goodness of God, which make a good woman earth’s highest treasure, and man‘s noblest inspiration. We want you to ever bear in mind that the country can never rise higher than the soul of its womanhood. We want you to know that we have complete faith in the majesty of your mind, and the goodness of your heart. And now and ever, may the strong love of God Almighty abide within your bosom, and, like an armed band of invincible and immortal warriors, guard and guide your soul.