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Salem Teens Presented With Student Social Justice Award

Two Salem teens recently received an award from the Salem Award Foundation for Human Rights and Social Justice.

Salem Teens Presented With Student Social Justice Award
At Monday night's School Committee meeting, two Salem teens received an award from the Salem Award Foundation for Human Rights and Social Justice.

Kathleen Curtis, Education co-chair of the SAF, presented the "Student Award," including copies of the book Speak Truth to Power and checks for $100 to Chase Duffin, a high school senior at Salem High School and Edwina Shackleton, who will graduate from Salem Academy Charter School next month. Mayor Kimberley Driscoll was on hand to congratulate the students and talk about the important work of the SAF.

Curtis explained that the Student Award is made available to Salem's high school seniors every year through a nomination process. The SAF looks for students who exemplify SAF ideals of having a vision about changing inequities in their world, and acting on that vision. She said, "We seek students who go beyond existing approaches to solving problems and use their enthusiasm to inspire others."

Chase Duffin was chosen for his participation in numerous groups and clubs dedicated to human rights and social justice. These include: Spark 540, the Student's Adventures in Leadership Group, several green initiatives, and the National Honor Society.

Chase has helped build homes and plant trees in the swamps in New Orleans, traveled to Senegal with much needed educational supplies for learners there, and has led the effort to renovate the outdoor classroom at Salem High School. In the words of nominator Katie Coleman, "Chase shows fantastic drive and initiative in all the groups of which he is a part. He is reliable, takes on leadership roles, and gets things done."

Edwina Shackleton was selected for her courage in increasing the dialogue about race in school communities and the classroom. In her own words: "We need to acknowledge these differences among racial groups and change our education system to provide more appropriate support for the most at-risk populations."

To accomplish this, over the past three years Edwina built the Racial Justice Group that helps students acknowledge their personal identity while creating an environment of support for ALL students. More recently, Edwina presented at a Teach for America summit, where she delivered a presentation to approximately 75 educators about the importance of addressing race relations in the classroom and the benefit of incorporating those ideas across curricula. To quote her nominators: "She is poised to do amazing things in college and beyond. Our school community has become a better place because Edwina has been part of it."

The Salem Award Foundation also presented a book to each Salem elementary school library on the topic of human rights and social justice.

Founded in 1992, it is the mission of the Salem Award Foundation, through education and awareness, to ensure that the lessons of the 1692 Witch Trials are not forgotten and to demonstrate their relevance today. For more information, please go to:  www.salemaward.org.  

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