LA Unified High School freshman wins Princeton Prize in Race Relations
For immediate release: April 19, 2006
Media contact: Marguerite Vera, 609-258-9573, email@example.com
LOS ANGELES -- Gabriela Olguin, a freshman at South Los Angeles Area High School No. 1, has been awarded the Princeton Prize in Race Relations for developing a weeklong program at her school called Peace and Unity Week.
Los Angeles City Councilman, Princeton Alumnus and Trustee Jose Huizar presented Olguin with a $1,000 award at a ceremony Wednesday, April 19, at South L.A. Area High School No. 1. Six local high school students also received certificates of accomplishment for their efforts to enhance race relations at their schools. The Princeton Prize in Race Relation is sponsored by the Princeton Alumni Association of Los Angeles.
The Princeton Prize in Race Relations is an awards program that recognizes high school students for outstanding work in their schools or communities to advance the cause of race relations. The program was launched in 2003 in the Washington, D.C., and Boston metropolitan areas. It has since expanded to be offered additionally in Houston, Atlanta, Miami, St. Louis, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and San Francisco.
Olguin was recognized for her efforts to reduce racial tension in her high school, one of the most dangerous campuses in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She saw innocent people dying in her neighborhood as a result of gang violence and poor choices and wanted to make a change.
With support from her school's Leadership Class, Olguin organized a program called “Peace Week” in an effort to improve relations between Latinos and African-American students. Olguin and the Leadership Class promoted a week of peaceful activities and music during the lunch hour to promote peace and unity, giving students something to do other than cause trouble at lunch.
Olguin also organized an assembly during which students read their poetry about hate; special dances were performed; and guest speakers were brought in from a nearby organization called “A Place Called Home.” Students were encouraged to attend a Violence Prevention Symposium that a local organization called “A Place Called Home” was sponsoring at the end of the week.
In addition to those efforts, Olguin began a series of “speak outs” that encouraged students to talk about the violence that was occurring in their school. Olguin’s efforts helped unify a 2,900-member student body that had been charged with racial tensions and divisiveness.
Olguin is also involved in the Human Relations Committee at South Los Angeles High School where she works with a variety of organizations on issues that affect the campus.
The prize committee also awarded certificates of accomplishment to the following students:
Glenn Alejo, a senior at Phineas Banning High School in Carson, helped his Filipino Club Magka-isa to promote itself culturally by inviting the whole student body to get to know participate in his club’s activities.
Chassity Griffin, a senior at Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences in Reseda, helped to organize a discussion on race related topics in her school that included the entire student body of 450 and faculty.
Joseph Katona, a senior at Harvard Westlake School in Los Angeles, along with his peers organized a project called “Teens Against Genocide” (TAG). He helps to spread awareness about the genocide occurring in Darfur among students from 15 Los Angeles area High Schools.
Roxanne Phen, a senior at William S. Hart High School in Newhall, participate in her school district’s Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity which was formed to discuss allegations of institutional racial insensitivity and lack of responsiveness to these issues by the district. She organized student meetings to address student concerns and helped the committee to offer recommendations to improve diversity issues in the district, which represents 22,000 students.
Sandy Rodriguez, a senior at Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, works to ensure that all students in the Los Angeles Unified School District receive an equal and quality education regardless of race or economic situation through a group call South Central Youth Empowered thru Action.
Eric Sanabria, a senior at King/Drew High School in Los Angeles, encouraged community activism by helping his peers become politically aware with a mock presidential election and political awareness month in his school.