PITTSFIELD — Five city middle schoolers were honored this fall with S.A.Y. It Proud Awards, presented by the Pittsfield Prevention Partnership of Berkshire United Way.
The S.A.Y. It Proud, or Supporting and Acknowledging Youth award, highlights students who are making positive contributions to their school and/or community, and are keeping a positive attitude to overcome adversities or help them stay above the influences of substances like drugs and alcohol and other risky behaviors.
This fall's honorees were nominated through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers after-school programs at Herberg and Reid middle schools. Herberg honored eighth-grader Allison Henderson and seventh-grader Mark Amenlemah, both in their second years of participating in 21st Century programs, and considered "compassionate and reliable role models" in school, according to 21st Century staff member Mallory Reddy.
Henderson has done a range of after-school and summer activities, from photography to baby-sitter's training to survival skills camp, and always with a smile. "Being positive always makes you feel good when you can put a smile on someone's face," she said.
Amenlemah said he likes learning new things, from cooking to theater, and says, "Being happy rubs off on everybody. It's my way of trying to help them."
Reid honored sixth-grader Travis Hoose, and seventh-graders Rebecca Ramos and Brina Keir.
Reid 21st Century coordinator Kelsey Falkowski said that each student is highly engaged in school activities.
Hoose was nominated because, "He was always willing to try something new and work with the other students." He enjoyed learning to build an outdoor shelter this summer and also stays active on the student council.
Ramos "put 100 percent effort into every activity" during the summer program she was in, particularly with Berkshire Theatre Group. Ramos said "wanting to do well in school" keeps her engaged in school and the community.
Keir enjoyed studying forensic science in a partnership with the Berkshire Museum and says having friends and teachers who care about her play an important role in her success. "Brina is kind to every student. She goes out of her way to make sure that every student feels included in every activity."
The S.A.Y. It Proud awards were developed after a survey of eighth- , 10th- and 12th-graders in Berkshire County said that teens do not feel their neighbors recognize the good things they do nor do neighbors encourage teens to do their best.
According to program coordinator Christopher Broast, studies show that rewarding young people for positive activities help them to feel bonded to their community, thus reinforcing their commitment to healthy behaviors and lowering their risk for engaging in unhealthy behaviors.
Learn more about the awards and Pittsfield Prevention Partnership at Facebook.com/pittsfieldpreventionpartnership or by calling 413-442-6948.