Josh Carpenter

Josh Carpenter, recent Ontario High School graduate, will receive the 2020 McGowan Courage Award. The award honors local high school students who have faced life experiences of adversity and hardship with extraordinary courage, tenacity and fortitude. 

This is part six of an eight part series that profiles all students who are recipients of the 2020 McGowan Courage Award, presented by the Mansfield Rotary Club. One story will be released each day for the next eight days.

Through life’s trials and tribulations, Josh Carpenter has continued to demonstrate courage, earning him the 2020 McGowan Courage Award. 

“It was a surprise, but it was really appreciated,” Carpenter said, recalling when he first learned about the award. 

Carpenter was nominated by several teachers, of whom he grew very close with over the three years he attended Ontario High School. 

After losing his father in middle school due to a heart attack, Carpenter’s life took a confusing turn. He went to live with his mother for three years, but due to her declining mental health, Carpenter went to live with his brother James Carpenter for his last three years of high school.

“When (my dad died), I had a lot of people I was friends with in middle school that were there to support me, and everything really did change when I moved in with my brother, because that’s where I got my main support,” Carpenter said.

His brother, 24 years old at the time, didn’t hesitate to step into the role as his primary guardian.

“Realistically, I never really gave it any thought. I did it and I never truly looked back,” James Carpenter said. 

Moving in with his brother gave Carpenter more opportunities and encouragement to branch out and do more things, two of those things being show choir and theater. Since joining, Carpenter participated in many shows. 

“It really was and still is life changing,” he said. “Every role brings on new things that you learn about yourself. And with choir, it became a family when I got to Ontario (High School).” 

Veronica Cain, school counselor, commends Carpenter for his special perception to see when others are in need. 

“While adolescence is often marked by self-absorption, Josh Carpenter embodies the opposite of this sentiment,” she wrote. “He is outwardly focused, with a genuine, gregarious personality and a willingness to help others that seems to come intuitively.” 

The one word James Carpenter can use to describe his brother is motivated. 

“Whatever he does, whether it’s theater or choir or education, he always strived to do the best he can and he always wants to progress and become better at whatever he sets up for himself,” he said. 

After being influenced by many of his english teachers that he’s been able to open up to over the years, Carpenter will pay that forward by pursuing a degree in English and becoming an English teacher. He plans on attending North Central State College in the fall for two years and a four-year college afterward. 

“That’s been the goal for the past few years and I would love to come back and especially teach at Ontario (High School),” Carpenter said. “I enjoyed all three years that I’ve been at Ontario with the English department. They’re some of the nicest teachers I’ve ever had and they are hands down the reason why I want to teach English.”

With the amount of support he’s been given over the years, Carpenter’s got a lot more headed for him in life. 

“I have a lot of people that I look up to, I have a lot of people that I want to be like, so really I do my best to emulate what I see as the best qualities of most people around me,” he said.   

The 2020 McGowan Courage Awards are sponsored by: OhioHealth (premier sponsor), Mechanics Bank (gold sponsor), OSU Mansfield (silver sponsor), Richland Bank, North Central State College, The Mansfield Art Center and The Renaissance Theatre.

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Thrive Reporter

Tierra Thomas is the Thrive Reporter. She was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio and graduated from Kent State University with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. When she's not writing news, she's writing fiction or taking photos.