Madison and Harding Students Win First Ever $1000 Princeton Prize in Race Relations In The Northwestern New Jersey Area

Written by
Princeton University
April 20, 2007

The Northwestern New Jersey Committee for the Princeton Prize in Race Relations announced the award of the $1,000 Race Relations Prize to be shared by Ester Amelia Johansson-Lebrón, a senior at Madison High School, and John McHale of Harding Township, a senior at the Morristown-Beard School.

The committee further honored the following local students with certificates of merit: Trisha Chakraborty (Randolph High School); Wilfredo Contreras (Dover High School); Ilana Rossoff (Morristown High School); and Esther Clovis, Amelia Jeffcoat and Sharlene Piverger (Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child in Summit). Ms. Johansson-Lebron and Mr. McHale may use the $1,000 scholarship to further their studies next year at college.

Janice Arnold, a member of the Princeton Class of 1994 and co-chairwoman of the effort, praised the recipients: "Since her sophomore year, Ester has taken on the challenge of advocating for Spanish speaking students and creating programs for them at Madison High School. She redirected the efforts of the existing student Diversity Group to address special academic and social issues with which some Hispanics grapple at her school. She also devised a survey of all students' attitudes toward race which will be used, after she graduates this spring, to plan programs and activities to further diversity efforts for all races. Ester will leave a legacy at Madison High School of tolerance for all."

Ms. Arnold similarly cited Mr. McHale’s work at the Morristown-Beard School: "John has been a catalyst for change at the Morristown-Beard School. For two years, John represented his high school at Diversity Leadership Conferences. He brought back what he had learned. John led "Mix It Up" days, melded diversity efforts from all aspects of student life at Morristown-Beard, spoke at school assemblies, conducted a standing room only student forum, fostered movie nights where images of minority races were discussed, and assisted the faculty in its diversity discussions. John has also encouraged younger students to follow his lead. He too will leave a tradition of fostering concern for all persons regardless of race or ethnicity."

Paul Flowerman, a member of the Princeton Class of 1971 and co-chairman of the Princeton Prize in Race Relations, singled out the certificate of merit winners. "These wonderful students from all types of schools — public and private — are no less deserving of praise for their commitment to furthering race relations in their schools and communities. Their diversity alone demonstrates that race relations is a subject in which all can and must participate. They are the leaders of tomorrow. We honor them with certificates of merit in the hope that such recognition will encourage them to continue to favor dialogue over diatribe."

Alcatel-Lucent is sponsoring the award ceremony on May 10, 2007, at its corporate facility in Morris Plains, New Jersey. Stephen R. Reynolds, Alcatel-Lucent general counsel and chairman of its Diversity Committee, as well as a member of the Princeton Class of 1980, stated, "Alcatel-Lucent is proud to sponsor the ceremony as part of our deep commitment to workplace and community diversity."

The Princeton Prize in Race Relations will invite as its guests the award winners and their families as well as prominent members of the community in the areas of education, social services, religion and politics. Janet Smith Dickerson, Princeton University vice-president for campus life, will deliver the keynote address.

Incoming president of the Princeton Club for Northwestern New Jersey Mercedes Naficy D'Angelo, a member of the Princeton Class of 1984, concluded, "As Princetonians, we are proud of all the students honored and those who also applied. There were many worthy applications. We look forward to learning next year from other students how they are making a difference and how we can support their worthy efforts."