WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton awarded medals for bravery or community service on Thursday to seven young people, calling them ''role models for all the rest of us.''

The recipients included Waylon Dean Bertsch of Buchanan, N.D., who, at the age of 10, rescued his sister who had fallen through ice and held her above water until their parents arrived.

Another was Christopher P. Ericks, of Rapid City, S.D., one of 22 people held hostage by a gunman who entered their classroom with a shotgun. When the man lighted a cigarette, Clinton said, ''Christopher calmly snatched the shotgun away.''

After he awarded a medal to Jessica Ann Johnson of Elliott, Iowa, who rescued her 4-year-old brother from a pigpen where he had been attacked by 400 pound sows, the president recalled a similar experience from his own life.

He said he was attacked by a ram at the age of 6 and ''I got into politics thinking I wouldn't get kicked around so much.''

The other honorees were:

Kelly Elizabeth Broxten of Gaithersburg, Md., who taught over 300 students about basic first aid and treatment for substance abuse.

Dennis Chisholm of Winston-Salem, N.C. who volunteered 5 days a week in summer work in center for children with disabilities.

Sarah Elizabeth Greensfelder of Baltimore, who volunteered more than 900 hours working for others.

Gennie S. Sluder of Clatskanie, Ore., who was the sparkplug behind a statewide program to help hungry children, while she was working on two jobs.

The Young American Medals for Bravery and Service, a Justice Department program, were first awarded in 1951.