For their community
8 teens honored with Peacemaker Award
GREENFIELD — Eight area teens were honored Thursday for their selfless efforts to make their communities more harmonious.
The Peacemaker Awards, a program of the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice and the Franklin County Interfaith Council, has recognized outstanding teens since 2000.
In the 1990s, in light of the nation’s school violence problem, including the Columbine school shooting and teenage violence in Franklin County, organizers felt that the accomplishments of dedicated young people were being overshadowed. So, they decided to honor them with the Peacemaker Award.
Victor Capuzzo, a senior at Ralph C. Mahar Regional School, was nominated by guidance counselor Paula Swenson, for his involvement in the school’s peer mediation and training active bystanders programs. Swenson said she was particularly proud of Capuzzo earlier this year, when he offered to give up his seat on a trip to a pride march in Boston, despite all the fun he had there last year, so someone else could go. Things worked out, though, and there’s now a seat for everyone on the upcoming trip.
Alexis Foley, a junior at Frontier Regional School, was awarded for her selfless efforts to help others. Foley organized a blanket drive for the people of the Dominican Republic, and, last Christmas, she and her family took the money they would’ve spent on presents and bought toys and school supplies, which they hand-delivered to the Dominican Republic.
Tucker Jenkins, a junior at Mohawk Trail Regional School, worked to make his school’s student council more inclusive and responsive. He was also one of a few Mohawk students who spoke to the School Committee and persuaded them to include the almost-axed peer leadership program and French classes in next year’s budget. Jenkins is also a little league coach, and feels it’s important to set an example for young children.
Jeremiah Jones, a Mohawk senior, has worked with younger students to beautify their school, there sometimes as early as 6 a.m. to sand, paint and clean. A three-sport athlete, he coordinated a program for varsity athletes to visit elementary schools, reading to the children and helping with winter sport activities.
Alison McKenna, an eighth-grader at Great Falls Middle School, was the first middle-school student to receive the Peacemaker Award. School counselor Emily Krens said McKenna is one of many students she sees. The issues McKenna comes with, though, are a bit different. Rather than worry about her own problems, McKenna often comes to Krens with concerns about other students. She has been working with other students on an anti-bullying film, and, along with friends, coordinated “mix-it-up day,” where students forgo their usual cafeteria cliques and dine with people they might not usually talk to.
Amanda Mozea, a Frontier senior, has worked with the “Frontier Friends Team,” which takes new students under its wings, and works to fight bullying. A past bullying victim herself, she detailed the experience and her ways of coping with it in an essay on gossip, which was included in the evening’s program. Her solution, she wrote, is to simply be warm and talk to the victims of gossip, so they don’t feel so isolated.
Marissa Roberts, a junior at Athol High School, teaches the training active bystanders program to her peers. She is also a member of Catalyst, a student group that discusses bullying and other injustices, and comes up with plans to set them right.
Sarah Shedd, a senior at Pioneer, has served her fellow students in the school’s peer mediation program, and as a member of Students Against Destructive Decistions. She spends many of her out-of-school hours volunteering with 4-H.
State Rep. Denise Andrews commended the eight teens for their contributions. She also offered to take each and every one of them to the Statehouse, so the future leaders could get a feel for government.
David Rainville can be reached at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279