Houston High School student wins Princeton Prize in Race Relations
For immediate release: April 28, 2006
Media contact: Betsy Haas, email@example.com
HOUSTON — Rasaq Lawal, a senior at Dulles High School in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, has been awarded the Princeton Prize in Race Relations for implementing a weeklong program at Dulles designed to increase respect between students from different ethnic groups.
Lawal was presented with a $1,000 award by ABC Channel 13 news anchor Melanie Lawson (Princeton class of 1976) at a ceremony on Thursday, April 27, at the St. John’s School. Three local high school students also received certificates of accomplishment for their efforts to enhance race relations at their schools. The ceremony was sponsored by the Princeton Alumni Association of Houston.
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 and currently is offered in 10 cities across the country. Ultimately, the goal is to expand the program nationwide.
Lawal was recognized for his efforts to organize and implement “Embracing Diversity Week” at Dulles. Dulles is a high school of 2,300 students in the Fort Bend ISD. Students there have backgrounds that are extraordinarily diverse in terms of ethnicity and national origin. This year, as the leader of the Dulles Diversity Club, Lawal took the popular concept of designating each day in a school week to highlight one aspect of respecting students of other races and he customized it creatively to appeal to the students at Dulles. As he says in his application for the Prize: “Creating activities that students would actually enjoy and participate in was a truly trying task, but seeing the effect [they] had . . . was very satisfying in the end.”
“Lawal’s commitment to working to promote tolerance in his school and his achievements in spreading the message of the need for respect between all people was exceptional,” said Betsy Haas, a member of Princeton’s class of 1976 and co-chair of the Houston Princeton Prize Committee.
A commitment to spreading the message of the importance of tolerance and respect for others has been a passion of Lawal’s throughout his high school career. He began as an underclassman by creating and delivering biweekly broadcast segments — shown during the school’s announcements — on the diverse cultures of the world.
This year’s “Embracing Diversity Week” program of activities shows Lawal’s developing expertise in effectively spreading the message of tolerance. During his leadership, the Diversity Club created a motivational video titled “Make a Difference” that highlighted quotes relating to tolerance by leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and which was shown to the entire school on Tuesday of that week. For Thursday, which was “Skit and Dance Day,” Lawal wrote an acrostic piece on D-I-V-E-R-S-I-T-Y that was performed by students:
“I is for the injustices of the past that affect our present . . . we must learn to reflect on the past to ensure these injustices are never repeated . . .
“V is for the very, very extraordinary people who choose to stand up for what is right and denounce what is wrong.”
The prize committee also awarded certificates of accomplishment to the following students:
Joy Brunson, a senior at Cy Fair High School in Houston, for her efforts in increasing representation by African-American students in the school’s drama program, and also for deepening insight into African-American culture by directing a student production of A Raisin in the Sun and ensuring that it reached a wide audience.
Dennis Campbell, Jr., a senior at Dulles High School in Sugar Land, for his mentoring and leadership activities during high school promoting positive relationships between the races. For Campbell, this represents the continuation of a life-long commitment to standing up for what is right in the context of society’s treatment and perceptions of racial identity.
Andrea Nguyen, a senior at Kempner High School in Sugar Land, for implementing a number of popular programs that foster tolerance and respect for cultural differences, and which were designed to reduce racial tensions in the school community. Nguyen was able to obtain a No Place for Hate designation, not only for her school but also for the entire city of Sugar Land.