Eastside High School Students Earn National Student Advocacy Awards

By Lindsey Johnson

Under the direction of International Baccalaureate Spanish Teacher Maria Zelaya, thirteen students from Eastside High School developed projects aimed at addressing social issues and received national recognition as well as monetary awards.

The assignment was to identify a social issue, research current methods to address it and create a visual presentation with their solution and to solicit help from others. The students created the projects in Spanish as well as forming an English version to present to family, friends and the Gainesville community.

These students earned $900 towards their causes as winners of the 2021 Milton Wolf Prize in Student Advocacy. The students have allocated $450 towards Louisiana residents who were impacted by Hurricane Ida and the other $450 to local Eastside students in need. They will make small care packages full of essentials for fellow Eastside students who lack necessities and make them available at the front office.

“I am very proud of all the students who created projects for The Milton Wolf Prize in Student Advocacy,” Zelaya said. “They chose their topics, did the research and presented in Spanish for my class and in English to members of the community. This is what global education is all about: students recognizing the problems in their community, understanding the different perspectives, communicating their ideas (in two languages) and taking action by making a difference in their community.”

A Jewish community leader, Milton Wolf served as America’s ambassador to Austria during the height of the Cold War and was a decorated humanitarian.

The award is presented by Centropa, a non-profit, Jewish historical institute dedicated to preserving 20th century Jewish family stories and photos from Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans, and disseminating these stories and photos through films, books and exhibitions. 

Congratulations to these amazing students!

Award Winners

  • Winner: Rani Batist, Isabella Vallente-Lauzan: Homelessness in Gainesville, FL
  • Winner: Sawyer Cohen, Heet Patel, Andres Padron: Homelessness in Gainesville, FL
  • Runner-up: Douglas Monroe: Cyberbullying
  • Runner-up: Leann Omalay: Substance Abuse in Alachua County/Gainesville
  • Runner-up: Rani Batist, Ahmik Paul, Daniel Park: Housing Inequality
  • Runner-up: Sabrina Sehlin, Payal Thakor, Saanwi Lalwani: Sexual Violence



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