Sophomore speaks of forgiveness in winning “Character First” essay

Cody Durr, a sophomore at Schuylerville High School, is being recognized across the county for an essay he wrote about forgiveness for the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors’ “Character First” essay series. The series features one student essay per month on a topic related to character. Fifteen students from Schuylerville High School submitted essays of 400-500 words and a committee of teachers, counselors and administrators evaluated the essays and picked a winner.

“Cody’s essay was powerful and truly stood out,” High School Principal Matthew Sickles said. “He showed how forgiveness can be found in any situation, even the most merciless.”

Durr’s essay focused on how a mother of a student killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 has chosen to forgive the gunman and focus on the joys her son brought her during the six years of his life.

“A common misconception of forgiveness is that the person forgiving thinks that the act was okay. That is far from the truth,” Durr wrote. “However you’re moving on, past the negatives of the situation, toward the positives. Everyone would rather focus on the positives instead of the negatives. Forgiveness provides a conduit to positivity. “

Durr’s essay was featured during the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors’ meeting in Ballston Spa on Dec. 16 and will be printed in the Daily Gazette and the Saratogian newspapers. Durr also received a voucher for a $500 scholarship that he will be able to redeem when he enrolls in college. He plans to read his essay to the Schuylerville Board of Education during the Jan. 26 meeting.


Cody Durr is a 15-year-old sophomore at Schuylerville High School. He is the son of Wayne and Karann Durr of Gansevoort, N.Y. Cody is a hard-working and high-achieving student who has consistently earned High Honor Roll status throughout his school career. He plays soccer and tennis year-round, both for Schuylerville High School and outside organizations. He is also a member of DeMolay International, an organization that promotes civic awareness, personal responsibility, and leadership among young men. During his freshman year of high school, he served as president of the Schuylerville chapter of the National Junior Honor Society. Cody is also a contributing member of the Yearbook Club and has volunteered his time with the Schuylerville Elementary School Helper Program and fundraising for the Saratoga Radiation Oncology Center. Cody’s goal is to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and pursue a career as an aerospace engineer.