Congressional Merit Award winner Daniel Collins

Dan Collins Captures Class of 2017 Political Awards

Congressional Merit Award winner Daniel Collins with school counselor Lymari Tattnall.

July 17, 2017

Dan Collins is a determined runner who played a key role in all of the Blue Devil indoor and outdoor track team’s championships over the past four years. But the Huntington High School Class of 2017 member is a deep thinker, too.

Mr. Collins is headed to Bucknell University in the fall. The teenager is the Class of 2017’s recipient of the Political Science Award and the Congressional Merit Award, which were both presented last month at Huntington’s senior academic awards ceremony in the high school auditorium.

“Daniel Collins has dedicated himself to the world of history and politics during his four years at Huntington High School,” said Joseph Leavy, the district’s chairman of humanities, 7-12, who presented the Political Action Award. “In addition to excelling in a number of Advanced Placement courses, Mr. Collins also served as a student intern for social studies teacher Kenneth Donovan’s AP US History course, as well as being the president of the Social Studies Honor Society. He helped organize the society’s annual public political issue forum, which brings together students and citizens to discuss controversial issues.”

Dan Collin with Humanities Chairman Joseph Leavy
Political Action Award recipient Dan Collin with Humanities Chairman Joseph Leavy.

Mr. Collins also garnered the Congressional Merit Award, which was presented by Huntington High School guidance counselor Lymari Tattnall on behalf of Congressman Thomas Suozzi.

“I was very pleased to receive the Political Action Award and the Congressional Merit Award from US Representative Thomas Suozzi,” Mr. Collins said. “It is very exciting to receive an award from my representative in the U.S House of Representatives. I find it very fitting to have received the Political Action Award as that is just what I plan on doing with my life. I am going to study history and religion at Bucknell University, however studying political science is definitely on the table. I will also be earning a military science degree in the Army ROTC program. I plan on being an officer in the Army/National Guard when I graduate. All of this I hope will enable me to pursue my dream of serving in the US Congress. One day I hope to have Representative Suozzi’s job.”

A thoughtful, articulate and considerate young man, Mr. Collins earned the respect of both teachers and classmates. He has a serious side, but he loves to laugh, too.

“Danny was a strongly analytical student who enjoyed participating in the intellectual discussions and debates in history, politics and related subjects,” Mr. Donovan said. “Whether in the classroom or simply in conversation, Danny possessed a healthful skepticism, which he used to deconstruct the arguments of others while simultaneously being open to others’ ideas.” 

Mr. Collins developed many productive relationships with his teachers and coaches, classmates and teammates over the past four years. He has enjoyed meeting new people and learning something from each of them.

“Helping me fine tune my plans were two of the most influential people in my education, Mr. Leavy and Mr. Donovan,” Mr. Collins said. “Mr. Leavy was excellent in not only teaching me the base curriculum, but going beyond and challenging me intellectually. I will very much miss the energy and fun paired with learning from his classroom. Mr. Donovan was a great catalyst for my learning and exactly what I needed and what I think a lot of people need. His class is about debate and deliberation of history, not dictation. History is facts, but it is not static. My knowledge of history grew some, but my understanding was immeasurably increased. Being his intern was similar, we would create discussions and activities for class and discuss how we would think it would go based on each class period and have an after discussion to review how it went.”

The new Huntington alum used his credit bearing internship with Mr. Donovan to grow intellectually. It has helped prepare him for the academic rigors he is sure to encounter at Bucknell University.

“For my final project I was doing a study of his somewhat unorthodox class approach and was asking current and former students what they thought of his class and if they learned, etc.” said Mr. Collins about his classroom mentor. “A student told me this and I think it summarizes the Donovan experience well: ‘Mr. Donovan doesn’t teach history, he presents it and lets you come to conclusions.’”

Mr. Collins will never forget these past four years, but he’s “very happy” to be moving on to Bucknell and a new round of studies and challenging pursuits.