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High School Students Are Recognized for Fight for Racial Equity

By: Telisha McIntyre
Telishamcintyre@minorityreporter.net

Winner of the Princeton Prize in Race Relations , Sarah Adams, Sophomore at East High School. Photo provided.

Do you know any high school students fighting for racial equity for better racial understanding within their schools, neighborhoods, or communities? Do you know any students who have had enough and decided it’s time to fight back against racism and white privilege?

Seven students from the city of Rochester and surrounding areas were recognized during the Princeton Prize in Race Relations Ceremony held March 10 at Harley School located in Rochester NY.

The students, from all different races had the opportunity to express how they felt towards the racial issues they deal with on a daily basis at the prize ceremony.

“The fact that anything significant could be accomplished by high school students during this complicated year is nothing short of remarkable,” said Jocelyn Goldberg-Schaible, President of Rochester Research Group.

“I would like to tell you all to stay engaged, stay committed, stay involved. Help fix what is broken, help fix where healing is so deeply needed.” Goldberg-Schaible’s message to the students. The Princeton Prize in Race Relations, brought to Rochester sixteen years ago, is one of the twenty-eight Princeton prize communities across the United States. The prize rewards high school students who have made major changes through volunteer activism and advocacy against racial equality. The Princeton Prize in Race Relations (PPRR) recognizes and rewards high school students who, through their volunteer activities, have undertaken significant efforts to advance racial equity and understanding in their schools or communities, according to the Princeton University website.

The students consisted of; Giovanni Santana a junior at the School Without Walls, Isaiah Santiago a senior at Schools of the Arts, PeiLin Lu a senior at Fayetteville-Manlius High School, Sarah Adams a sophomore at East High School, juniors at Pittsford Sutherland High School, Django Paine and Amaeera Duarte and Muhammad Mbowe a junior at Pittsford Mendon High School.

East High School sophomore Sarah Adams was awarded with the 2022 prize, for her work on racial equity in education with Teens with Attitude (TWA) and the Center for Teen Empowerment.


As a pivotal member of TWA, a youth coalition of several Rochester area youth organizations, Sarah and her peers fought for and won Foundation Aid for the Rochester City School District (RCSD). She also advocated in a “We Won but We Ain’t Done!” youth field day to spread awareness about students’ priorities in terms of how that aid would be used. In her role as a Youth Organizer at the Center for Teen Empowerment, Sarah focuses on various issues that youth face today while creating and inspiring dialogue to help combat those problems and bring about real system changes, according to the RCSD website.

Sarah said she will continue to look at the various issues that youth face today and create and inspire dialogue that will help combat those problems to effect real system changes.

“I expect this will place me in positions where I will be able to hold individuals with the most influence accountable. I understand this could be difficult considering that covid has changed how lobbying and social activism is done, but my innovation is undying.”

The winner is awarded $1,000 and an opportunity to meet other winners from across the country at the university’s Annual Symposium on Race, to learn from and speak with others engaged in similar racial justice work and scholarship.

The Princeton Prize was founded nineteen years ago by Henry Von Kohorn, a 1996 Princeton graduate who recognized the need to support and encourage young high school students with a commitment to see positive race relations within their communities.

Von Kohorn’s vision was the notion that encouraging students early with reward and support would motivate them to continue the much needed work in college and beyond.

The prize has honored more than 1,600 high school students.

The students have advocated and fought back for justice for several months on various issues affecting their communities.
SOTA’s Isaiah Santiago wants to end youth violence. Isaiah founded the “We Got This” organization, a youth-to-youth mentoring and recording studio program to help kids who are at-risk get off the streets.

“One of my proudest parts of the program is two of the young people who joined came in as members of gangs, but by the end of the program, they no longer have anything to do with the gangs,” said Isaiah.

The students serve as a reminder that there is much more we can do to better society and encourage others to stand for change with the racial system.

School Without Walls’ Giovanni, presented a global approach to racial equality including advocacy across races and cultures. He collaborated on the annual ROC2Change Summit and Black Lives Matter panel discussions, and is one of 25 high school students from across the region to participate in RCSD’s Emerging Leaders Program.

“We’re giving people insight about how it {racism} affected our lives and let them feel how it would be if they walked in our shoes,” Giovanni said. Giovanni said he plans to continue with events and be the voice for his Hispanic culture.

The amount of power and strength felt in the room was like no other. What might have been a typical night for most, was a night made in history for others.

Further information about the amazing group of students can be found at https://bit.ly/RochesterAreaPrincetonPrizestudents. Visit pprize.princeton.edu for more information regarding the Princeton Prize in Race Relations.