Maltz Museum Spotlights Student Advocates For Equality With $100,000 Stop the Hate® Competition

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On Wednesday, April 26th, the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage honors 6-12th graders who have expressed their commitment to creating a more accepting, inclusive society through its annual Stop the Hate® competition. The public is invited to attend the Stop the Hate® Awards Ceremony to hear students share their inspiring essays and original songs and find out who wins $100,000 in anti-bias awards and scholarships.

“I am more than the color of my skin.” “Gender rules don’t matter.” “Self-hate is just as dangerous as any other.” "Where you're from shouldn’t change how people treat you.” Nearly 3,300 Northeast Ohio 6-12th graders recently submitted these and other reflections on intolerance as part of the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage annual Stop the Hate® Youth Speak Out competition. Each student shared his or her experiences and ideas for effecting positive change in a 500-word essay. “It’s not just about students recognizing and evaluating instances of discrimination in their own lives,” explains Jeffery Allen, Maltz Museum Director of Education. “We encourage them to recognize they have agency and a voice. We want them to see the role they can play in creating a more inclusive future.”

After 440 volunteer readers blind scored the essays, 25 finalists representing 22 different schools emerged. These upstanders are now in the running to win a portion of $100,000 in scholarships and anti-bias awards. Winners will be announced at the Stop the Hate® Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, April 26 at 6pm at the Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center at The Temple-Tifereth Israel (Case Western Reserve University, 1855 Ansel Road, Cleveland, OH 44106). The public is invited to celebrate this next generation of leaders and to hear the top ten (10) juniors and seniors read their essays for the audience and a panel of community judges. The Awards Ceremony is being hosted by Lori Stokes, the award-winning TV journalist and daughter of former United States Congressman Louis Stokes.

The 2017 Stop the Hate® Youth Speak Out Grand Prize scholarship finalists are:

Brian Amusat, Shaker Heights High School, Grade 12 (Shaker Heights, OH)
Tionna Cisco, Brush High School, Grade 11 (Lyndhurst, OH)
Aurora Fleming, Bay Village High School, Grade 11 (Bay Village, OH)
Zephaniah Galloway, Cleveland Early College High School at John Hay, Grade 12 (Cleveland, OH)
Geoffrey Gao, Solon High School, Grade 11 (Solon, OH)
Zachary Holtz, Gilmour Academy, Grade 11 (Gates Mills, OH)
Miao, Muqing, Gilmour Academy, Grade 12 (Gates Mills, OH)
Courtney Reed, Hawken School, Grade 11 (Gates Mills, OH)
M. Seven Richmond, University School, Grade 11 (Hunting Valley, OH)
Maria Savani, Gilmour Academy, Grade 11 (Gates Mills, OH)

Fifteen 6-10th grade Youth Speak Out finalists are also being honored on April 26. The finalists from each of those grades are eligible for cash prizes. They are:

Grade 6
Curt Harris III, Newton D. Baker School of Arts (Cleveland, OH)    
Nicholas Niemiec, St. Barnabas Catholic School (Northfield, OH)
Aparna Srikanth, Orchard Middle School (Solon, OH)

Grade 7
Emily L. Brackin, Old Trail School (Bath, OH)    
Jeremiah Sheppard, Kenneth W. Clement Boys’ Leadership Academy (Cleveland, OH)     
Megan Wooley, Beachwood Middle School (Beachwood, OH)    

Grade 8
Fiona Macke, Roxboro Middle School (Cleveland Heights, OH)    
Olivia Pelley, Constellation Schools Old Brooklyn Community Middle (Cleveland, OH)     
Hana Samad, Horizon Science Academy Cleveland Middle School (Cleveland Heights, OH)    

Grade 9
Yash Ghosh, Mayfield High School (Mayfield Village, OH)    
Maggie Hall, Mayfield High School (Mayfield Village, OH)     
Lara Nunez-Cerrillo, Mayfield High School (Mayfield Village, OH)

Grade 10
Zaria Acy, Brooklyn High School (Brooklyn, OH)    
Brigid Naughton, Magnificat High School (Rocky River, OH)    
Maya Stupica, Kenston High School (Chagrin Falls Township, OH)    

In confronting the pain that hate and intolerance causes, students from all grade levels overwhelmingly share a belief that efforts they make to educate others and create connections can yield positive results. “In America lately discrimination and hatred have been dividing us,” Hana Samad wrote in response to learning her essay was in the top three for her grade level. “If a 13-year-old girl's voice helps heal the rift, at least I can say I did something to help.”

Those sentiments are echoed in the original Stop the Hate®: Youth Sing Out songs being performed by students from Shaw High School, Midview High School and Newton D. Baker School of Arts, as well as appearances by the Horizon Science Academy's US Army JROTC Color Guard and the Student Group on Race Relations (SGORR), Shaker Heights High School.

Stop the Hate®: Youth Speak Out is presented by the Maltz Museum with the support of Dealer Tire, Dominion Resources and Nordson Corporation Foundation. Youth Sing Out is possible through the partnership of Roots of American Music and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the generosity of The Abington Foundation, The Bruening Foundation, Martha Holden Jennings Foundation and The Nord Family Foundation. For more information or to register to attend the Awards Ceremony, visit maltzmuseum.org.

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Interviews and individual photos of the judges and student finalists are available upon request. Please email erudolph(at)mmjh(dot)org if you’re interested in attending and/or covering the Awards Ceremony.

Stop the Hate® - The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage created Stop the Hate® to foster an appreciation for people of diverse religions, races, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. By challenging young people to consider the consequences of discrimination and the role of the individual in effecting change, Stop the Hate® Youth Speak Out and Youth Sing Out encourage students to be leaders and upstanders. Learn more at maltzmuseum.org/stop-the-hate or by following @stopthehateUS on Twitter.

Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage - Maltz Museum celebrates culture and identity to encourage connection and promote a greater appreciation of Jewish heritage and the diversity of the human experience. Personal stories of struggle, courage and creativity are brought to life through interactive exhibitions and thought-provoking programs. For more information, visit maltzmuseum.org and follow us on Twitter @maltzmuseum.

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Lindsay Miller

Susan Friedman
@stopthehateUS
since: 07/2014
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