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RUSD Celebrates Five Peacemaker Award Recipients


Congratulations to the RUSD high school students who received 2016 Peacemaker Awards. Below is more information about each of the recipients, as written by their respective nominators. 

Focus on Community / Case High School

Jose Santos-Ruiz became a part of the Focus on Community (Focus) Teen Peer Program in June of 2014 after attending Teen Institute, our leadership camp. After Teen Institute, Jose decided that he wanted to become more involved in his community, especially helping others. He volunteered for Focus for over one year before he applied to become a Teen Peer. Now, as a sophomore at Case High School, Jose helps to implement several of our programs working with kids and their families. Jose is always willing to do anything asked of him and puts forth 100% effort in all that does. He loves to play soccer and football with the kids, lead icebreakers, run team building activities and talk to the kids to get to know what is important to them. Jose always comes into Focus with an amazing attitude and is always very positive when working with people. At Focus, we think that Jose is the perfect candidate to receive the Peacemaker Award.




Veronica Velazquez
Horlick High School

Veronica Velazquez is an exemplary community leader who has worked with local student group, Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES), for four years. YES is the youth arm of Voces De La Frontera, the largest immigrant and worker rights organization in the state. Veronica has a passion for making positive change in our community and the motivation to work hard to make things happen. She has helped organize events like Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Getting Out The Vote, Fiesta Patria, and has met with school board members, the mayor and other student leaders. She always brings out the best in others and motivates those around her to do the best they can. Although quiet, she is never afraid to stand for what she believes in and for what is fair. She is also involved with The Key Club, International Club, SkillsUSA and Math Club. At only 18 years of age, she has accomplished a lot of wonderful things for our community and is just getting started.




Abbey Mattison
Park High School

Abbey Mattison is an inspiration. As Park’s Peacemaker of the Year, she sees equality as a central issue to a more peaceful world. In particular, “equal-ness” as Abbey refers to it, is crucial between special needs and regular education students. Abbey regularly volunteers to help people with special needs. She plays basketball and soccer among students with special needs in the Tyler-Domer Center gym. At Park High School, there is a group called the Panther Pals. Abbey has been a volunteer for two years. She really enjoys spending time with Panther Pal participants. Abbey is especially inspired when she sees special needs students trying to make baskets and they don’t give up. She sees how proud the students are when they miss the first few times, keep trying and make it. Creating peace is all about celebrating successes of others. Abbey’s personal projects include nature photography, adult coloring books, rag-rug weaving for presents and for her home. Abbey’s professional goals include ultimately opening up her own day care for special needs students. Other goals include graduating from college. At the current time Abbey would like to attend Gateway Technical College in Racine. Abbey creates peace one success at a time.



Larissa Breit-Nicholson
Walden III High School

Larissa is currently the President of Walden III Green School Organization.  As president of Green School, Larissa has accomplished quite a bit during the 2015-2016 school year.  Larissa and Green School started the year with improving our school-wide recycling program and looking at new organizations in our community to assist and help. Green School also planted flowers to grow in the front of the school to increase the beautification of our community.  In February and March, with the help of the amazing students and friends of Walden III, we raised more than 250 books for Cops N' Kids, a local organization that helps kids learn to read and write.  In April, we went on a field trip to the Eco-Justice Center to learn about healthy sustainability in an individual and communal way.  
Green School also represented Walden and RUSD at Eco-Fest at Gateway this year.  Under Larissa's leadership, Green School has also started to plan our Odd Recyclables Recycling Program in which we would recycle plastic bags, ink cartridges and small batteries. Currently, one of our new members has started to uniform our trash cans and recycle bins and has been very successful with the support from RUSD. Under Larissa's leadership, Green School has not only impacted the Walden community, but also has made a lasting impact on the city of Racine.



Jeffrey Urquhart
REAL School

Jeffrey has attended REAL School since 6th grade. Although he left during grades 9 and 10, Jeffrey returned for his final two years of high school. Jeffrey is a soft spoken young man who focuses on his school work and has always shown kindness toward others. As a junior and senior, he has organized a REAL School Walk-for-Life team.  Jeffrey is always willing to help others and makes himself available to help staff regularly.  He role models what it means to "Be kind and be REAL" at the REAL School.