The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation and The Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County (HMTC) annually honor middle school, high school and college students on Long Island who confront intolerance, prejudice or other forms of social injustice. The Friedlander Upstander Award, presented by HMTC and the Claire Friedlander Family Foundation, in conjunction with the Nassau and Suffolk County Police Departments, is awarded to Nassau and Suffolk middle and high school students who have acted as Upstanders against bullying or intolerance in any of its forms. This year over 80 applications were received from high school and middle school students from across Long Island. The recipients of the 2018 Friedlander Upstander Awards are:
Edgar Josue Rivas Lizama, is an 11th grader at Huntington High school. Edgar is a dedicated advocate for Immigrant rights, both in school and through non-profit work. As an immigrant himself, he feels deeply committed to dispelling stereotypes about immigrants and advocating for equal rights. He is an active volunteer with the Long Island Immigrant Student Advocates and is also heavily involved with the ESL program at his high school.
Sydney Brett is an 11th grader at Long Beach High School. She is a staunch advocate for students with learning disabilities. After experiencing bullying in the classroom, Sydney founded her own non-profit, Sydney’s Smiles, which “aims to equip kids with the tools they need to end bullying in their immediate environment.”
Michael Scalisi (runner-up) is a 12th grader at Wellington C. Mepham High School in Merrick. As a young student, Michael found himself in the midst of an islamophobic situation involving a high school friend. He decided in that moment to not only comfort his friend but also to defend her from the stereotypical and racist taunts being made against her. He demonstrated the core elements of being an Upstander through his immediate response to intolerance.
Bryn Schlussler (runner-up) is a 12th grader at Bay Shore High School. She is a dedicated advocate for students with special needs. Bryn created the inaugural Bay Shore Chapter of Best Buddies International, of which she is president. The international organization, Best Buddies works with special needs students and neurotypical students to encourage the break-down of stereotyping and alienation and to encourage friendships.
Lina Tornese is an 8th grader at Oldfield Middle School in Greenlawn. She always had an aversion to labels within her school- particularly those that singled out her peers who didn’t “fit in”. This aversion came to the fore when Lina noticed one of her classmates, a young man with Cerebral Palsy, was being isolated by his fellow classmates. She decided to befriend the young man and now has created a program with the assistance of the school administration to ensure that no child eats lunch alone.
Sage Gladstone is an 8th grader at South Woods Middle School in Syosset. She has always been an advocate for those in need. While in Middle School, Sage had the opportunity to watch a video about the non-profit, Days for Girls which donates female sanitary products to young women in need. She has become the youngest volunteer for the organization and has organized multiple drives for Days of Girls at her school.
For more information, call (516) 571-8040, visit HMTC’s website, www.hmtcli.org, or find us on social media at Facebook.com/HMTCNY and Twitter.com/HolocaustTolCtr.
At the Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County’s recent Tolerance Benefit, Long Island Students were awarded the Friedlander Upstander Award for acting as an Upstander against bullying or intolerance. Pictured are (Top Row L to R:) SCPD Chaplain Michael Homan; NCPD Inspector Michael Studdert; Steven Markowitz, Chairman of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center; Helen Turner, Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County Director of Youth Education; Michael Scalisi, Friedlander Award recipient (Honorable Mention); Edgar Lizama, Friedlander Award recipient; Peter J. Klein, President, The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation (Bottom Row L to R) Sydney Brett, Friedlander Award recipient; Lina Tornese, Friedlander Award recipient; Sage Gladstone, Friedlander Award recipient; and Bryn Schlussler, Friedlander Award recipient (Honorable Mention).