By DAVID RAINVILLE
Thursday, May 14, 2015 – Reprinted courtesy of the Recorder, Greenfield MA
(Published in print: Friday, May 15, 2015)
GREENFIELD — Traprock Center for Peace and Justice Director Sarah Pirtle says the Peacemaker Award recognizes not only the students, but also the families, teachers and mentors that help and inspire them to do good things.
“We look forward to this night all year,” Pirtle said at the awards ceremony at Greenfield Community College on Thursday.
The awards were founded in 2000 by Traprock and the Interfaith Council of Franklin County, to shed a positive light on area youths at a time when school violence was making headlines nationwide after the Columbine shooting.
This year, more than a dozen area students were honored for their community contributions in the annual Peacemaker Awards.
Several students from Four Rivers Charter Public School were honored for coordinating a 36-student filmmaking project. Seniors Collin Flandreau, Trent Holmes, Asia Littell, Bridget Lowry, Amber Magin, Finn McMillan and Matt Spring were the production team for the senior class documentary about the proposed Cape Wind offshore wind energy farm. Principal Peter Garbus said the teen producers were able to bring the entire senior class together, divide the work and produce a comprehensive film dealing with a controversial topic.
Frontier Regional School seniors Oliver Fox, Kimberly Logan and Nicholas Olszewski were honored for coordinating the school’s new “honor code.” The code, signed by 99 percent of students, asks students and staff to be on their honor to create a respectful, kind and compassionate school community. The students said they didn’t want it to be just another anti-bullying initiative, and sought to create something their peers could really get behind.
Leela Kurzmann, a senior at Monadnock Waldorf School, has given up traditional summer vacations to fly across the world and help orphans. She’s taken three summer-long trips to India with her parents and students from the Northfield Mount Hermon School to work in the Joy Bells Orphanage. There, she helped younger children study English. She also raises money for Joy Bells, as well as gathering funds to help other students travel to India to work at the orphanage. Kurzmann also volunteers in Big Brothers Big Sisters and at a community meal site.
Claire Abelson, a junior at Greenfield High School, received the award for spearheading a project to make school proms affordable to all students. She set out to gather donated prom dresses, suits, shoes and accessories for less-fortunate students. The program collected more than 200 dresses, 10 suits and several other items, which went to students from more than 10 western Massachusetts school districts.
Jade Basem, of Deerfield Academy, was honored for her efforts in the school’s mentoring programs. She participated in a partnership between the school and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County. Basem organized several events for the school’s “bigs” and their “littles.” She was nominated by Annette Mackin, who called her the “quintessential volunteer,” who never backs down from an opportunity to help others.
Jessica Lloyd, a senior at Ralph C. Mahar Regional School, was honored for helping to bring different parts of the school community together. She helped special-needs students in the school’s CAPS program. She also helped students settle their differences as a peer mediator, and worked as a trainer for the Training Active Bystanders anti-bullying program. Lloyd has also spent her high school years on both the Key Club and the International Club.
The Peacemaker Awards are given to youths in eighth grade or higher, as well as teens who are homeschooled or have left school. Nominations come from school staff and community members.