In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Friedlander Upstander Awards, the Claire Friedlander Family Foundation provided a $20,000 grant that funded $5,000 scholarships the 2020 essay winners. The foundation and the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County in (HMTC) in conjunction with Nassau and Suffolk County Police Departments annually honor middle school, high school and college students on Long Island who confront intolerance, prejudice or other forms of social injustice. Each of the award winners has demonstrated through their daily choices how they are Upstanders.
The 2020 Friedlander Upstander Award Winners are Avery DeNatale, a 12th grade student at Locust Valley High School; Sean O’Toole, a 12th grade student at Oyster Bay High School; Isabella Costello, a 10th grade student at Bay Shore High School; and Hadeeka Malik, a 10th grade student at Half Hollow Hills High School West.
Avery DeNatale, a student at Locust Valley High School, has dedicated herself to spreading kindness in her community. She volunteers in her school with “Life Skills,” a group in her school that helps special needs students learn skills like how to grocery shop and do laundry. As a result of her volunteer work with “Life Skills,” she has been inspired to become an elementary school teacher.
Sean O’Toole, a student at Oyster Bay High School, was the quarterback of the school’s football team and recognized that Black and immigrant players were subjected to discrimination by the team’s coach. He attended school board meetings and told the principal and athletic director about what was happening which resulted in the removal of the coach.
Isabella Costello, a student at Bay Shore High School, is one of fourteen adopted siblings with special needs. Born with bilateral hearing loss, she has learned to overcome adversity to achieve success. Isabella organized a day at her high school to bring awareness to Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder her younger brother has. She hopes that because of her efforts, her peers and teachers will understand why her brother looks different and treat him with love and respect.
Hadeeka Malik, a student at Half Hollow Hills High School West, is active in her school and community in Girl Scouts, Peer Ambassadors, Peer AIDS and Women’s Empowerment groups. She is also a member of the Junior Board of the Sophia Valsamos Foundation, a nonprofit which seeks to empower youth to take a stand against bullying and embrace each other’s differences. Having herself experienced discrimination, Hadeeka believes in the importance of speaking up against bigotry and hatred.
Peter J. Klein, CFA, CRPS, CAP, the President of the Friedlander Foundation said, “The essays these students have submitted are inspiring. Each student describes a challenge about equality, human rights, tolerance justice — and how they have helped to accomplish it. These students presented through the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County are excellent role models.”
For more information visit HMTC’s website , www.hmtcli.org