RACINE — Six local students received the 2019 Peacemaker of the Year awards.
This year’s Peacemaker of the Year awards were sponsored by the Racine Interfaith Coalition and Educators Credit Union. Each recipient received a trophy and a gift.
Recipients were chosen based on being students who:
- Organize and lead peacemaking /diversity/projects /activities
- Participate in these types of events/activities
- Learn about and demonstrate non-violent, peaceful alternatives
- Creatively engage students in peace-awareness projects that affirm diversity or alternative lifestyles
- Winners this year were: Dalon Williams of Walden High School; Esmeralda Rivas of Focus on Community; Olegario “Ole” Cervantes of Case High School; Lizeth Brito of Horlick High School; Jazmin Muro of the John XXIII Educational Center; and Jennifer Villalobos-Andade of Park High School.
Williams demonstrates every day the ideals of diversity and acceptance. He has impacted life at Walden in so many positive ways with the goal of letting everyone know his message: that it is OK to be yourself.
Early on in his high school career, Williams saw a need to help create a club for LGBT students and put in the work to make sure it happened. He wanted to send the message that everyone will be appreciated. His expectation for equality is demonstrated in his words, actions and belief in the goodness of others.
In bringing people together to celebrate differences, Williams is Walden’s Peacemaker.
Brito is a model student who is always working to better her school and community. At the school level, she is involved in Student Government, Key Club, National Honor Society, FCCLA, swim, cheer and track.
Brito is constantly leading by example and showing students how to be calm and peaceful in situations. She constantly encourages underclassmen to solve their problems in a peaceful manner, and she makes her presence known in the hallway when she works with students.
Brito has natural leadership abilities without giving in to ego. In the community, she is involved with literacy movements, where she reads stories to young students at elementary schools. She shares the power of education with them, and how it has gotten her to where she is. She plans to attend Carthage College.
Brito has also volunteered at HALO, helping organize events for the children there to make their time more peaceful and engaging. At St. Monica’s she is always ready to lend a helping hand, from doing nails for the patients to make them feel more beautiful to ensuring that their time there is pleasant.
Rivas became part of Focus on Community in 2017 when she attended Teen Institute, a four-day leadership conference where the participants learn to become more active in their community, use their voices to make change and be positive role models for other youth.
After Teen Institute, Rivas began volunteering at various community events and programs that Focus leads including the Families and Schoots Together and Strengthening Families programs. She also supported any community events that Focus was involved with.
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Rivas quickly completed her 40 hours of volunteer service and became paid staff. Consistently and reliably supporting programming, maintaining a positive attitude and filling in whenever she is needed are just a few things that she does for Focus organization.
Rivas helped complete more than 200 tobacco-sale compliance checks, dedicating not only evenings, but weekends and holiday school vacations as well. She is an asset to Focus, her community and a role model to other youth.
Cervantes graduated from Case High School with a 3.3 GPA, and was well-respected by faculty and peers there.
Cervantes is the oldest of three children. They live on a farm with their parents and raise 15 horses, goats and a bull. Besides getting up early to help with the chores on the farm, Cervantes also works at Kohl’s.
When Cervantes has free time, he enjoys fishing, cooking, horseback riding, rodeos and Mexican dancing. He will be a first-generation college student and will be taking his talents to the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in the fall, with aspirations to go to law school.
Cervantes is multilingual, speaking English, Spanish and some French. Other talents he has are welding and sculpting. He recently competed in the Wisconsin Skills USA competition in Madison and took second-place overall in welding and sculpture in the state.
Muro is a rising sophomore at St. Catherine’s High School and has attended John XXIII Educational Center since 2015. She excels academically, has a positive attitude and is always the first to volunteer her time.
Muro is currently on Honor Roll and holds herself to a high academic standard. She is extremely involved in the community and is always looking for ways to better Racine. She writes for the St. Catherine’s school newspaper, is a member of ACTS Youth Ministry, and is on the cross country team.
Muro volunteers at John XXIII-sponsored events such as its annual banquet, Christmas celebration and end-of-the-year party. Jazmin’s willingness to help others, and her dedication to her family, friends and community reflect her ability to make a positive impact.
Park High School’s senior Peacemaker of the Year, Villalobos, has been involved with many activities including the National Honor Society, Leaders of the Pride, Link Crew and soccer.
Her peacemaking skills shine and are refined in restorative justice circles, safe places to communicate. Most issues discussed are related to social media and he said/she said drama. As a restorative justice circle keeper, Villalobos tries to accept and understand what people are going through.
She was an executive officer in Park High School’s JROTC. She plans to join the Air Force to do something bigger than herself — serve her country and protect the rights of all. One day she hopes to become a pilot. Her favorite Latin phrase, “non sibi,” means to look at the big picture by staking a step back and seeking a bigger purpose. Non sibi reminds her of her aunt, an army veteran who has inspired her her.