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Nine RUSD Students Receive 2014 Peacemaker Award

06/16/2014

Congratulations to the RUSD high school students who received 2014 Peacemaker Awards. Below is more information about each of the recipients, as written by their respective nominators. 

Trevor Jung
Case High School

Trevor Jung gives me hope for the future.  Never in my career have I met a more outgoing, committed, and charismatic individual.  Team these attributes with intelligence, wit, and genuineness, and Trevor is embodied. 

Trevor’s activities both in the school and community are almost too numerous to mention.  Rather than asking what areas Trevor is involved in, it would be easier to ask what he is not involved in as the list would be much shorter!  He has a role in nearly every organization at Case High School and commits countless hours working for social justice in the community. He is Case’s senior class president and was chosen as Homecoming King.  He is also active in YES (Youth Empowered in the Struggle), Link Leaders, Principal’s Advisory Committee, Expect Respect, Model United Nations, International Club, and he is even the “Voice of Case High School” during daily announcements.  In addition to his school activities, Trevor still finds time to work at a local coffee shop. Although he has a laundry list of activities, he is not a resume builder; Trevor takes an active role in these organizations and is committed to each one.

Trevor takes challenging courses at Case High School and maintains a 3.488 grade point average.  He ranks 82nd of 477 in his class at school.  Included in his courseload are four International Baccalaureate courses-the most difficult possible at Case High School. 

What really sets Trevor apart is his deep commitment to local, state, and national politics.  Trevor has volunteered for presidential campaigns and has served as a field organizing and staffing intern in a National congressional race. He has a strong understanding of political issues and is always willing to talk with others in a respectful and appropriate way about issues that affect us all.  I fully expect to see Trevor in the political arena himself sometime in the future.

When I think of Trevor, I am reminded of the poster titled “Never Give Up!” which shows a bird trying to swallow a frog. Though the frog’s head is in the bird’s mouth, the frog is choking the bird to avoid becoming dinner.  Trevor never does give up.  His optimism and belief in his ability to impact the world is refreshing.  These qualities will serve him well in college as well as in his future in the political arena.  He will be an amazing advocate for others throughout his life. 

Teahelahn Keithrafferty
Walden III

Teahelahn Keithrafferty embodies the spirit of what can be considered the best practices of Walden students, in that she exhibits care and concern for the people associated with this place, the neighborhood, the Racine community, and the larger world.

For years, she has led, or has been involved in, activities that demonstrate a willingness to work toward, and to help others understand, the need to take part in determining how to be a positive force for positive change.  I can recall recently how she took part in speaking with large groups of middle school students about proper social behavior, respect, anti-bullying, and their part improvement efforts in the school.  She has organized a St. Baldrick's cancer awareness event, and this year organized community vigils in support of those affected by typhoon Haiyan, and one calling attention to the Keystone XL pipeline issues.  She has been an energizing force in Walden's Green School, and was a driver behind the city allowing for the intersection repair project at 10th and Center Streets, which now displays a student painted mural.  She is a member of Americore, and has had a part of leading in grassroots rights demonstrations of various sorts in the school and community. 

I am quite sure that Teahelahn has a bright and promising future, and that her input into whatever physical orbit she exists in, at any particular moment, will be a benefit for her presence.  She is one of those people who just plain care.  

Samuel Kohlmann
Case High School 

Samuel Kohlmann “hit the ground running” from the first day of high school.  He is motivated, directed and determined.  He is always looking for opportunities to improve his skills and increase his knowledge. Sam has taken many challenging courses at Case High School including International Baccalaureate coursework.   He has a grade point average of 3.946 and ranks 38th in his class of 524 at Case.  He has never settled for less than his best. It is not in Sam’s personality to “coast”; he actively seeks out opportunities and makes the most of every one.
 
The son of two teachers: one theater and drama, the other technology education, Sam has in his personality qualities of both.  His extracurricular activities reflect two very different sides of his personality-a unique combination I see in very few students.  Artistically, Sam has immersed himself in Conflict Resolution Crew, a dramatic group that works to build strong communities.  He has been a principal writer and actor for the group and has won a Community Youth Service Award for his efforts. Technologically, Sam has taken Project Lead the Way coursework throughout high school; this engineering coursework will prepare him well for his career goal of becoming an engineer.  

Additionally, Sam is a leader in his school community.  He helps raise school spirit at Friday night football games and participates in student government.  I work closely with Sam in Positive Impact, a group of high school students who are paired with an elementary classroom to promote positive life choices through monthly interaction. Sam does an excellent job of engaging the students using his outgoing personality. Sam has also stepped up in Positive Impact training by coordinating games and activities to train the high school mentors.

On a serious note, when Sam was in eighth grade, his mother was diagnosed with cancer.  Because of the illness, she had to take a leave of absence from teaching.  His freshman year was incredibly tough for Sam, but he still managed to maintain excellent attendance and high grades.  

Sam is much more than good grades and an impressive resume.  His zest for life, creativity and ability to connect and work with others will serve him well as in college and throughout his life.

Anthony Ramirez
Horlick High School / Focus on Community

Anthony has worked with Focus on Community for the past three years.  He has displayed exceptional leadership ability and a passion for making a difference in our community.  He has been instrumental in the development of programs like the All Stars Transition Program, helping 5th graders make the transition into 6th grade, the Be the Change Club, an after school program at Mitchell Middle School which provides mentoring and social development opportunities for youth in 6th through 8th grades.  Anthony has also served on the organizing committee for the Youth as Partners in Civic Leadership conference, a statewide youth leadership event and Teen Institute a local teen leadership retreat.  

Anthony has been trained and has led activities such as Reality Circles which focus on diversity and banishing stereotypes, and “Bringing Out the Best in YOUth”(BOTBIY), which was presented around the state by Focus teens. The BOTBIY program was designed to help middle and high school students develop leadership and communication skills.   

Aside from Focus programming, Anthony has been a strong leader in other facets.  Anthony has volunteered his time and energy in a variety of fundraisers and activities which include; The Focus on Community Run/Walk for Prevention, the Backpack Giveaway, the Focus on Community Golf Outing, the Racine Ironman 70.3 and the Racine Fourth Fest Parade.  Anthony has been an active member and leader of YES (youth Empowered in the Struggle), a school based activism club, and has traveled the country meeting with legislators and conducting presentations to enhance the power of youth voice. Anthony has proven time and again that he is an outstanding youth leader who is dedicated to promoting peace, diversity and a better community.

Emily Romeril
Case High School

When one first meets Emily Romeril, you notice her big smile and positive attitude, and the genuine satisfaction she gets from working with a wide spectrum of people.  You might notice her excellent work ethic and willingness to do what it takes to get the job done.  What you might not notice is something that takes longer than a couple of meetings, her indomitable spirit.  It is that enduring quality that gives her the strength, compassion and determination to keep up for the vision she has to change her world.

When Emily joined the Conflict Resolution Class at Case High School, she was a tiny ball of energy and immediately set to pulling the class together as a group.  Watching her transformation into the strong leader she is today has been inspiring.  She has devoted her time at Case to making a difference.  First it was working with diverse groups doing teambuilding and social action theater through the Break The Hate Habit Project.  Then she reached out to the international exchange students.  Using her own time and resources, she connected them together and explored aspects of America and community that left them with a lasting positive impression.  She was an active member of student government, Link Crew, Positive Impact, YES and HYA.  She has marched for the rights of undocumented students and workers and volunteered in the community on numerous occasions.  Emily recently got up early the day after her own Prom to be a prom date to one of the disabled students at their Prom.  She co-developed the “I Am Norm” group at Case that strives to bring inclusion for all students here.  This summer she is part of a team of Theater students who are traveling to Germany to teach the Break the Hate Habit Workshop to four other community and school groups including one at Dachau. In addition, she has been a driving force in Eagle Theater, acting and contributing to original plays and musicals and performing them for a variety of audiences including the female inmates in the Illinois Youth Correctional Institution.   

Once she said, “I’m doing this work with people, because I love it, not because it will look good on a scholarship.”  I think that summarizes her best. Emily is a peacemaker because on the deepest level of her being, she loves people and wants to be a positive change in the world.  She wants our world connected, working to our greatest potential; she wants peace.

Danielle Riedel
Park High School 

Danielle has developed her peacemaking ability through her peacemaking skills through many ventures that include involvement in Lighthouse Brigade, theater productions and Link Crew.  Danielle has a pay it forward approach to peacemaking.  She has gained numerous responsibilities in Brigade and has learned from some of the best players.  In theater she has learned from the strong characters that she has portrayed.  She wants to help other students learn to be strong and responsible.  As a Link Crew leader, she has helped many freshmen through the “scary” times of 9th grade. Through Link Crew activities, freshmen have learned what to expect during the year that include assemblies and dances.  Danielle believes that everyone should “have a say and not resort to violence. “  That philosophy and her pay it forward approach will guide Danielle in her next adventure in the Merchant Marine Academy.

Lucera Rocha
Horlick High School

Lucera Rocha is a student activist. She believes peace without justice is no peace at all. Lucera is a leader in the student group, Youth Empowered in The Struggle. Y.E.S. is the youth arm of Voces De La Frontera. The largest immigrant rights and worker rights group in the state. Lucera is a quiet, strong and thoughtful young woman. Over the last four years at Horlick, Lucera has proven her commitment to social justice. She has played a leadership role in many of the youth led activities of Y.E.S. Each year she has helped organize a Dr. King day of activity. She has helped lead GOTV efforts of Y.E.S. These activities have involved over 400 youth in increasing voter turn out in Racine. Lucera has showed true leadership in building a strong immigrant and worker rights presence in Racine. She does it all quietly. She rarely puts herself in the limelight. She is extremely modest and unassuming leader. She is a true peace maker.

Isaiah Trussell
REAL School

Isaiah Trussell has attended the REAL School since 6th grade. He has played sports from pre-school through high school and recently earned a scholarship to play college football at Carthage College in fall. Isaiah plans to major in criminal justice and pre-law to start a career with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

Isaiah is a firm believer in hard work, helping others and protecting others from harm. He loves to teach younger children and serve as a good role model. He tutors elementary children at Olympia Brown Elementary School and volunteers at Halo Homeless Shelter.

Isaiah credits his mother and father for teaching him good morals to live by and always tries to make good choices. He cares for others' well-being and strives to be the best person he can be.

Luis Vega 
John XXIII Educational Center

Luis Vega first attended John XXIII Educational Center when his mother registered him as a freshman in high school. At that point, Luis seemed very unmotivated and uninterested in attending the Center or even graduating from high school. Four years later, we are thrilled to award Luis Vega with the Peacemaker award. Luis has made an amazing transformation. He is a senior, continuing his second year with a mentor at John XXIII, and is preparing to graduate from high school on time with his class. Whenever he attends the Center, Luis greets everyone with a smile and pleasant demeanor. He has become an active volunteer at John XXIII, assisting the staff with anything they need help with as soon as he finishes his homework, and sometimes attends the Center without homework just so that he can volunteer. He involves himself in the Center’s collaborations with Saint Patrick’s/Cristo Rey Youth Group such as Brother 2 Brother and the Biggest Loser program, and is happy to share his ideas and success story with any visitors to the Center. 

When asked about his experience at John XXIII, Luis explains, "My attitude changed to focus on school- I saw everyone failing around me and decided not to accept that. At the Center, I saw posters about being successful and I wanted that. When I need help, the staff  here are the best people to go to." His mentor, Matt Peterson, also shared, "our relationship started slow, but we've established a caring, friendly relationship. Luis was always smart, but from his junior to senior year he became more focused." Looking to the future, Luis hopes "to always challenge myself with something.” Through his hard working, friendly, and positive example, Luis serves as a fantastic role-model and Peacemaker. Congratulations, Luis!