The 18th annual Peacemaker Award winners. Top row, from left to right: London Summers, Nailah Barnes, Dana McRae, Nick Sharpe, Hugo Frost, Cole Emery. Bottom row, from left to right: Emily Young, Fatima Rashid, Alex Bacigalupo, Jeanne Grutchfield, Hunter Stanley, Cassidy Leyton

Recorder Staff

Thursday, May 17, 2018

GREENFIELD — Twelve Franklin County students were recognized for their efforts in making the world more peaceful and kind.

The 18th annual Peacemaker Awards highlight the efforts of Franklin County students from grades eight through 12 for accomplishments that help to better their communities. The awards are sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Franklin County and the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice.

The event was held Thursday at Greenfield Community College in front of families and friends of the students.

“I think to make peace, one must have a core of understanding,” GCC President Bob Pura, who received an honorary award during the ceremony, said. “And I think at the core of understanding is a brighter light of love.”

students were nominated by teachers and other community members. Those who nominated the students spoke briefly about the students’ efforts and how they positively affected the community.

The students efforts included the work of the Waste Warriors, an effort led by Hugo Frost and four other Mahar Regional High School students that helped to reduce the amount of recyclable material in schoTheol garbage.

“One of the many things that’s so beautiful about it is they demonstrated what movement building looks like,” Deb Habib from Seeds of Solidarity, a nonprofit organization in Orange, said of the students. She noted how the students’ effort started with a successful idea that gained momentum.

Another student, Nailah Barnes of Deerfield Academy, helped build self-confidence in children and women of color, promoting their beauty through the Brains with Beauty Project. Her efforts included bringing books with main characters of color to hair salons for children to read, as well as giving a blend of health and beauty and studying tips to students through The One-Stop Initiative online platform.

She hopes to help young African American women and others “see yourself represented in literature and that you’re beautiful,” Barnes said.

Other projects from students included creating safe and positive environments in schools, volunteering and working in substance abuse prevention and participating in helping to organize the National School Walkout after the Parkland, Fla., school shooting that left 17 dead.

“I think a lot are questioning what’s going to happen in the future in the world,” Jeanne Grutchfield, Mahar Regional High School student and award recipient, said. “But seeing all these projects tonight makes me feel pretty good about what’s going to happen in the world.”

Other award recipients were Alex Baciagalupo of Greenfield High School, Dana McRae of Pioneer Valley Regional School, Fatima Rashid of Deerfield Academy, Landon Summers of Mohawk Regional High School and Emily Young of Turners Falls High School.

Mahar students Nick Sharpe, Cole Emery, Hunter Stanley and Cassidy Leyton were also honored as part of the Waste Warriors team.

You can reach Dan Desrochers

413-772-0261, ext. 257