Walnut Hill School senior wins Princeton Prize in Race Relations
For immediate release: May 9, 2006
Media contact: Murph Shapiro, (617) 926-2115, or email@example.com
BOSTON - Eun Jin Lee, a senior at Walnut Hill School in Natick, Mass., has been awarded the 2006 Princeton Prize in Race Relations for her efforts to improve race relations in her school and community.
Lee will receive the $1,000 award at a luncheon ceremony to be held at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum at Columbia Point, Boston, Mass., from noon to 1:45 p.m. Saturday, May 13, 2006. Julius E. Coles, President of Africare, the largest African-American nonprofit provider of comprehensive aid services to Africa, will deliver the keynote address. The event will be held in conjunction with the Boston celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, with Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman and Wilson School Dean Anne-Marie Slaughter in attendance. Awardees and guests from the Princeton Prize ceremony are also invited to attend the 75th Anniversary celebration.
Founded in 2003 in the Washington, D.C., and Boston metropolitan areas, the Princeton Prize in Race Relations recognizes high school students for their efforts to improve race relations in their schools and communities. Prize programs currently exist in Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, St. Louis and Washington, D.C. The ultimate goal is to establish Princeton Prize programs in all 50 states.
Lee came to America from her native South Korea in the fall of 2002 speaking little English. As a ninth grader, she was placed in the English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) program for incoming international students and completed the four-year program in only 1 1/2 years. Later that year, she was elected co-head of the International Student Organization, and helped lower barriers of communication between international students and American students at Walnut Hill. Specifically, she organized a school assembly at which international students shared their music, dancing, folktales, movies and food with the larger student body.
At the beginning of her junior year, Lee delivered a speech explaining her disappointment with students who segregated themselves by lunch tables into “Little Japan, Little Korea, Little Germany, Little Mexico, etc.” To promote cross-cultural communication, she started “diversity zone” tables to mix international and American students and mandated that only English be spoken at them. Success with increasing student participation in “diversity zone” tables led her to start “Conversation Partners,” a student group that pairs American students with international students who desire to improve their conversational English, learn about different cultures and make new friends.
Also in Lee’s junior year, her peers elected her to be a Leadership Student, a job that requires her to welcome all new students and act as a mentor and role model for them throughout the year. Midway during her junior year as a Leadership Student, she petitioned school administrators to begin serving international cuisine in the cafeteria and ethnic snacks in the bookstore. She succeeded, and now all students and staff enjoy an eclectic menu and a variety of dining options throughout the day. Ethnic food has also been a conversation-starter for Walnut Hill students, opening lines of communication and lowering cultural barriers for more positive intergroup relations.
In her senior year, Lee joined the Walnut Hill branch of the National Arts Learning Collaborative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing, implementing, and evaluating arts-education programs in urban school districts. With transportation assistance from her school, Lee volunteered to go weekly to the predominantly African-American Marshall Elementary School in Boston to start a student government program there. Now administering their own government, Marshall student leaders thank and meet with Lee when they visit Walnut Hill to observe classes. Lee’s work at the Marshall school has lowered barriers of understanding between international students and urban students, Asian and African-American students, female and male adolescents, and independent and public school students.
According to Walnut Hill Assistant Dean Hope Ricciardi, Lee has “permanently strengthened” relations between all students and she is widely respected as a student leader across grades. Her many activities and race-relations improvement initiatives have not gone unnoticed by faculty and administrators at Walnut Hill. They earnestly support and regularly congratulate her on her many achievements. In Lee’s own words, “Winning the Princeton Prize has just made me realize how much harder I need to work at improving race relations. One little thing that I’ve realized is that one student can make changes, and that these changes might affect the whole world’s race relations. Just by doing little things, I feel very happy.”
The prize committee is also awarding certificates of accomplishment to the following students:
• Laura Frawley, a senior at Needham High School in Needham, Mass., for her leadership as a peer educator trained by the Anti-Defamation League; Chair of the Students Speak-Out Committee; moderator of her school’s Civil Rights Team; leader of her town’s Civil Rights Board; member of her town’s Human Rights Committee; and winner of the 2005 Golden-Sugihara "Do the Right Thing" Award from the Anti-Defamation League;
• Blayne Joseph Lopes, a senior at New Bedford High School in New Bedford, Mass., for his leadership as Youth Council President of the New Bedford branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Co-Chairperson of the Student Advisory Council; and peer leader volunteer of the Boys and Girls Club;
• Nicholas Miller, a senior at Brookline High School in Brookline, Mass., for his leadership as a member of the Planning Committee for the Minority Student Achievement Network Conference and advocate for free SAT tutoring for African-American Scholars;
• Cristina Rodrigues and Megan A. Smith, seniors at Milton Academy in Milton, Mass., for their leadership as Co-Editor-in-Chiefs of Aché, a literary magazine with emphasis on work by students of color, including the organization of an extra issue in response to racist dialogue on the student online conference; and
• Usama Saadat, a junior at Stoneham High School in Stoneham, Mass., for his leadership as a peer educator trained by the Anti-Defamation League, and as an ambassador for his school in a teleconference with students in Islamabad, Cairo and New York, including the organization of a pen-pal program and a fundraiser for earthquake relief in Islamabad.
Members of the news media interested in covering the luncheon award ceremony on May 13 can contact Murph Shapiro at (617) 926-2115 or firstname.lastname@example.org.