Awards were handed out to 4 Syracuse High School students who have made important steps toward peace, equality and understanding. The Peace Action C-N-Y Youth Award winners, and the difference they’ve made, were honored Wednesday night during a ceremony at Art Rage Gallery.
Celebrating the achievements of youth when they far exceed their routine requirements might be one of a community’s most gratifying tasks. Nottingham High Senior Semaj Campbell is being recognized for starting a group called Spotlighting Justice that’s worked on equality and understanding.
“We have over 40 cultures in our school and only the cultures that stick with each other and we asked ‘why is that so?’" said Campbell. "And we started a course in our school called cultural voices where we talk about gender and race equality and different thing that are going on.”
The group members also initiated an African American History month presentation, and held events on bullying.
Her sister Symone is also being honored for promoting dialogue and positive communication. Sara Reppenhagen has been an advocate for women’s issues, especially education, at Tully High School. Through the Girls Ambassadors program, she’s shed light on inequities elsewhere.
"We supported some kids to go to school and paid for their books and education. It’s nice to get letters back from them saying, ‘thank you, I really enjoyed this.’ In the United States we just go to school and it’s a thing that we do but in other countries they don’t get the same opportunities," Reppenhagen said. "I’ve been a real advocate in my school through fundraisers and awareness to try and get people’s attention.”
The final recipient of this year’s Youth Awards is Ella Neville of Nottingham High School who’s worked for racial justice and conflict resolution. Semaj, Symone, Sara and Ella received their awards at a ceremony Wednesday night.
Peace Action CNY is the local chapter of a national group that describes itself as the largest grassroots peace and justice organization.