If anyone doubts the integrity of America’s youth these days, we’d like to offer hope, for we’ve had the pleasure of learning about some pretty amazing high school students recently. Some are representatives to the Fairfax County Student Human Rights Commission. Others started a STAND for Conscience Club to make students aware of genocide in the world. Many help mediate fellow student conflicts, and others started a youth group that sent four people to Honduras to distribute clothing. How do we know? For the past five years, several groups have pooled their resources to fund what has now officially become known as the Northern Virginia Student Peace Award (NVSPA), or simply the Peace Award. Through the selection process we’ve gotten to know more about these incredible students, who are committed to peace and promoting good will in their communities and beyond.
Each year the award gains momentum as more recipients are selected to receive the small monetary gift that accompanies the award. And each year we delight in getting to know about the strides they have made toward becoming ambassadors of peace. To recognize their efforts, last year the Peace Award committee hosted a reception for the 10 students, which included an address by Chris Gilson from the U.S. Peace Corps followed by snacks and a meet and greet. In March we honor 11 students at a reception, where noted journalist and peace activist Colman McCarthy will address the group. McCarthy is the founder and director of the Center for Teaching Peace in Washington, D.C.
Currently 11 NoVa high schools participate in the NVSPA program, which is supported by Accotink Unitarian- Universalist Church; Alexandria Friends Meeting; Fairfax Partnership for Youth; First Church of Christ Scientist, Fairfax; Great Falls Baha’i Community; Herndon Friends Meeting; Langley Hill Friends Meeting; Northern Virginia Mennonite Church; St. John Neumann Catholic Church; Temple Rodef Shalom; and United Christian Parish of Reston.
We invite other groups, both secular and nonsecular, to join us in awarding this important honor each year to local students. The more who support this effort, the more deserving peacemakers we can recognize. Groups interested in becoming sponsors can contact Herndon Friends Meeting: 703-736-0592. Visit us at www.herndonfriendstest.org. Marylanders, please join us, too, so we can change the name to the Capital Region Student Peace Award!