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2012-13 News Releases

NEWS
RELEASE

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For Immediate Release:
Nov. 27, 2012
For more information, contact the Dept. of School and Community Relations at 703-228-6004 www.apsva.us
  
 Wakefield, Washington-Lee High School Students Receive 2012 Human Rights Award
 
The Arlington Human Rights Commission named Wakefield High School’s Project Upstanders and the Washington-Lee High School Best Buddies Chapter 2012 James B. Hunter Human Rights Award winners.

The James B. Hunter Award recognizes sustained commitment and outstanding accomplishment in the area of human rights made in Arlington by an individual, community group, non-profit organization or business. James B. Hunter was a former Arlington County Board Member who spent years in public service working on behalf of individuals with little access to government.

“I applaud the worthwhile efforts of these two groups as they work to better their school and community,” said Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy. “Our students are engaged in important work that is helping to make Arlington a better place to live. I am pleased that their efforts are being recognized by the Arlington Human Rights Commission and the broader Arlington community.”

Murphy added, “I also want to recognize the leadership of the principals, faculty and staff who support and promote these types of activities that are part of our comprehensive academic program.”

Wakefield High School’s Project Upstanders
“Upstanders” is a Wakefield community project that actively promotes the ideals of respect, dignity and human rights among students, faculty, and families. More than 125 student-leaders participated in an intensive day-long workshop to learn positive pro-social skills to combat bullying, harassment and stereotypical and prejudicial behaviors among their peers and in their own spheres of influence. The goal is to help move individuals from ‘bystanders’ to ‘upstanders,’ or those who take a stand against discrimination in any form. The Upstanders meet in small groups at least twice a month to develop activities and projects to raise awareness and promote acceptance.
Wakefield Upstanders have participated in a number of activities, including:
  • Bullying presentations to all ninth grade students;
  • A school-wide survey to identify how safe students felt at Wakefield and to map areas in the school where they see or have heard that harassing behaviors may occur. Administrators monitored the “hot” spots on a regular basis;
  • A student-produced video about acceptance that was presented at many forums throughout APS;
  • Classroom interventions; and
  • A week of “Action” dedicated to promoting awareness of the Upstander ideals.

Washington-Lee High School Best Buddies
Washington-Lee’s chapter of Best Buddies was founded in September of 2010 to bridge the social gap between students with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. This student-driven organization was designed to raise awareness and educate the entire student body on inclusion, respect and acceptance for all individuals. Washington-Lee’s Best Buddies has made many strides and accomplished a lot in the two years it has been in existence by building a strong program that aligns with the diverse culture of the school.
 
Students plan several events throughout the school year that foster acceptance, friendship and fun. From the annual harvest festival to the end of the school year cookout, events offer a safe place for everyone to enjoy the benefits of being a high school student.

In its second year, Washington-Lee’s Best Buddies Club has been named one of the best chapters by Best Buddies International. Best Buddies was founded by Anthony Kennedy Shriver in 1989, with a mission to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development.

Other recipients of this year’s award include Arlington businessman John “Kip” Laramie and Sara Heisey, a 2012 graduate of Wakefield High School, who devoted much of her senior year to fighting for the rights of gender and sexual minorities.

The 2012 James B. Hunter awards will be presented at a public ceremony and reception from 7-9 p.m. on Thu, Dec. 13 at the Arlington County Board Room, 2100 Clarendon Boulevard.