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Eight RUSD High School Students Earn 2015 Peacemaker Awards


Congratulations to the RUSD high school students who received 2015 Peacemaker Awards. Below is more information about each of the recipients, as written by their respective nominators. 

Rian Vickery
Senior - Park High School

Rian will be attending Carthage College next year majoring in Education and will earn a certificate in Special Education. Rian has been involved in many activities during her four years at Park High School including LINK Crew, National Honor Society, theater, sports, many volunteer experiences and Panther Pals.

Rian is a founding member of Panther Pals last year and the director this year.  Panther Pals helps regular education students discover how “cool” and “fun” students with disabilities are to hang around with. Rian has concluded that students with disabilities are so similar to regular ed students. The most rewarding Panther Pals activity this year was the Panther Pals basketball game. Each participant was able to run out on the floor with Park basketball players. There was a special half-time recognition of participants. Rian said the students talked about this event for weeks.

As Park’s senior Peacemaker of the year, Rian sees a more peaceful world when similarities between people mean more than the differences. Peace is about respect. It’s crucial to respect the point of view of others before rushing to judgment about them. She added you may not always agree with what others say and do, but if you respect them you can always find a peaceful solution to any conflict.

Kristi Parsons
Senior - Walden III

When it comes to creating positive change Kristi Parsons is the first person that comes to mind. In the fall of 2013 she attended Conserve School, an environmentally-focused semester school located in northern Wisconsin. During this time she learned how to peacefully advocate for social, political, economic and environmental change. After coming back to Walden, Kristi helped organize several events at Walden.   Working with Walden III Green School she promoted social and environmental causes including the first annual Walden Earth Day celebration and the second annual Intersection Repair Project at 10th and Center Streets. In the summer of 2014, she attended the Citizens’ Climate Lobby International Conference in Washington, D.C. in order to lobby members of Congress for a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

During her senior year, Kristi continued to serve as a leader at Walden.  She led an initiative to make 10th and Center a four way stop in order to promote safety. She organized a winter clothing drive that raised over 1,600 articles of clothing for local homeless shelters and worked with community leaders to show environmental documentaries at the Racine Public Library. Working with school administrators, Kristi helped raise funds for a rapid water bottle filling station to replace a broken water fountain and continues to help make improvements in and around Walden.

She has participated in numerous rallies in Madison supporting public education and right to work. Kristi strongly believes that our state’s workforce and educational system works better when united rather than separated. Kristi is also a former Racine County Youth in Governance Representative and just finished her term in mid-May. Volunteerism is a large part of her extracurricular activities, Kristi understands that in order for the world around us to change we must change ourselves.

Kristi is a firm believer that societal problems can be solved through community engagement and participating in peaceful demonstrations. Kristi hopes to pursue politics in college and she plans to continue to make a difference in her community by serving others. 

Maria Orozco
Senior – Horlick High School

Maria Orozco is a senior at Horlick High School and a strong leader in Youth Empowered in the Struggle. Her passion for social justice and willingness to help individuals drives her to act rightfully and accordingly in hopes of just tranquility with one's self and others, even when intimidated. Her humble and gentle personality along with her outgoing attitude makes individuals gravitate together, unconsciously uniting both peers and staff. These strong qualities as a Peacemaker have been noticed by the population at Horlick High School and therefore, it is fitting to award Maria with the 2015 Peacemaker Award. 

Kimberly Otzelberger
Junior - REAL School

Kim models the qualities of a Peacemaker through her continual volunteerism, kind spirit and eagerness to help others.  Kim shows a deep appreciation for her academic and social opportunities at school and displays a humble personality at all times. Kim gives of herself through mentoring at school, organizing activities and reaching out to others who may need assistance. Her calm, rationale demeanor has made her a model for others and a deserving recipient of the Peacemaker award. 


Noelle Otto
Senior – Case High School

If there ever was a person who cared about others more than herself, it is Noelle Otto. Throughout her four years at Case High School, she has reached out to others in the school and community with a sincerity and concern that is to be commended. Noelle has successfully passed every theater class and has been driven to learn as much about communication and problem solving which she then applied to her many classes.

Last year, she developed and presented the Break the Hate Habit project to Mitchell Middle School students. She also acted in a show about girl bullying that won state recognition and awards at the Wisconsin High School Theater Festival. Noelle also travelled with that show to middle schools and participated in the interactive talkback on how to combat bullying. 

The schedule in Eagle Theater has heavy demands on its students and the expectations are high. Noelle has worked in all areas of the theater, volunteering her time and peacemaking skills to all. Noelle also has volunteered in the community. She has worked with Marybeth Zuhlke, the recipient of the 2012 Volunteer Award, who has been her mentor. Together they have volunteered with youth throughout Racine and Kenosha.

Noelle Otto takes her peacemaking skills beyond the wall of Case High School and into the community. It is my honor and privilege to teach this young woman, and present her with the 2015 Peacemaker Award.

Bria Gentry
Case High School

Bria Gentry was a reserved young woman when she first began in the Eagle Theater Program. Today, she burns bright and is a dynamic youth leader at Case High School. Bria has been part of the Theater Company advanced theater leadership class for one and a half years and is the vice president of student government.

Last year, she travelled to Germany to teach and present the Break the Hate Habit project to three difference groups of German students.  She also developed and presented the Break the Hate Habit project to Mitchell Middle School students. She has gone to state twice where Eagle Theater won awards and recognition. She also traveled with that show to middle schools and participated in the interactive talkback on how to combat bullying. 

The schedule in Eagle Theater has heavy demands on its students and the expectations are high. Bria has been in six productions in her short time in the theater. This year, she earned the honor of directing her own senior show.

Within these varied experiences, Bria has demonstrated her unique people skills. She is concerned for others and her community. She volunteered for the Special Olympics as well and was a teacher’s assistant for a theater class for students who are cognitively disabled. Her warm heart and concern for others is seen in her many interactions with people. Bria Gentry is an inspiration among her peers and a shining star among the staff at Case. It is my honor and privilege to teach this young woman, and present her with the 2015 Peacemaker Award.

Alejandra Gutierrez
Senior - Walden III High School / John XXIII Education Center

Alejandra Gutierrez is an extraordinary young woman. In her senior year at Walden III High School she has truly shown great maturity and dedication to her studies. She has successfully completed all of her classes and has participated in majority of our after school activities. She demonstrates strong leadership abilities that have trickled down to some our other students at John 23rd. Alejandra’s positive attitude regardless of the situation has truly made an impact at our center.  




Sadie Neave
Senior - Horlick High School / John XXIII Education Center

John XXIII Educational Center proudly nominates Sadie Neave as Peacemaker of 2015. Sadie, a senior at Horlick High School, has been part of the John XXIII family since the fall of 2012. Sadie started attending the center when she realized that her grades were at her lowest. But now, she proudly awaits her graduation ceremony in June. Sadie is a very responsible young lady who spends her free time volunteering in the community. She is very involved in afterschool activities and is quick to lead when leadership is needed. Sadie’s upbeat attitude and her strong family values set a great example for her classmates at John XXIII Educational Center.