Up until a few weeks ago, Generation Z was in the spotlight for eating Tide Pods.
Then, a group of teenagers stepped into the public eye as they stood up to politicians days after their school was shot up and their friends were murdered in Parkland, Florida.
Alex McHugh, president of the Center for Racial Harmony, compared those teenagers to the 36 St. Clair County students who sat in front of him receiving an award for being a exemplary member of the community and promoting cooperation and understanding among all races and ethnic groups.
"You show us what it truly means to be Generation Z," McHugh said Sunday during the Racial Harmony Gathering awards ceremony. "Thank you for being such good examples of how gloriously good people can be."
Paula Badger, one of the founders of Racial Harmony, said all of the honorees are chosen for their outstanding qualities of character.
"The teachers pick a child who, consistently throughout the year, embraced the values of racial harmony and the mission of bringing kids together," Badger said.
The Racial Harmony Gathering's theme of "Building Bridges to Peace and Harmony" is another timely reminder of what people should strive for, according to Badger.
"You can build bridges through peace and harmony, not through anger and indecisiveness and whatever else we do," Badger said.
The other students honored at the Racial Harmony gathering are as follows:
- Chelsea Basa, seventh-grader, Shiloh Middle School
- Hayden Brethauer, sixth-grader, Henry Raab School
- Dorian Brown, 11th-grader, O'Fallon Township High School
- Caleb Burton, eighth-grader, Carriel Junior High School
- Brooke Bynum, eighth-grader, Joseph Arthur Middle School
- Lauren Chavis, third-grader, Ellis Elementary
- Zamaria Collins, eighth-grader, Emge Jr. High School
- Tre Conrad, fifth-grader, Governor French Academy
- Dannica Davis, sixth-grader, Lincoln Middle School
- Bryant Davis, fifth-grader, Westhaven Elementary School
- Alexis Davis, 11th-grader, Mascoutah High School
- Billie Jean Elliott, 11th-grader, Belleville West High School
- Hailey Emigh, sixth-grader, Signal Hill School
- Brea Forno, sixth-grader, Harmony Intermediate School
- Livia Franklin, eighth-grader, Central Junior High School
- Elena "Ellie" Geppert, fourth-grader, Roosevelt School
- Luke Gundlach, seventh-grader, Our Lady Queen of Peace
- Alexis Harp-Weck, third-grader, Union School
- Ashley Hines, eighth-grader, High Mount School
- Savannah Jackson, fourth-grader, William Holliday Elementary School
- Andre'a Kilpatrick, fourth-grader, Katie Harper-Wright Elementary School
- Audree King, third-grader, Belle Valley School
- Jala Lewis, sixth-grader, Douglas Elementary School
- Elise Melinder, fourth-grader, Wolf Branch Elementary School
Abby Millas, seventh-grader, Wolf Branch Middle School
- Courtney Newsome, 11th-grader, Lebanon High School
- Breeana Rauschkolb, seventh-grader, West Junior High School
- Brookes Schoate, second-grader, Abraham Lincoln School
- Maddy Schwemmer, eighth-grader, Smithton School
- Mariah Spencer, fourth-grader, Central Elementary School
- Hannah Teverbaugh, 12th-grader, Belleville East High School
- Breann Walker, fifth-grader, Franklin Elementary School
- Chansalee Winters, third-grader, Lalumier Elementary School
- Breya Woods, fourth-grader, James Avant Elementary School
- Leeyah Yates, second-grader, Illini Elementary School
- Austen Yates, sixth-grader, Jefferson School