ETHS recipients of the 2013 African American Youth Achievement Awards (from left): Francesca Frost, William Jones, Ange Ngongang, Katie Lifanda, Kianna Moore, Randall Foreman, Ella-Marie West and Andre Wallace.                                                                                        Photo courtesy of ETHS

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Evanston Township High School hosted the 16th annual African American Youth Achievement Awards (AAYA) to honor 38 African American students from Evanston/Skokie public schools. These students were recognized on Feb. 22, for their daily actions that pay homage to the visions and legacy of African American pioneers and pathfinders.

The awards program is part of a Black History Month initiative and was sponsored by First Bank and Trust, Family Focus Evanston, the City of Evanston, McGaw YMCA, Northwestern University and the NAACP, in conjunction with Evanston/Skokie School Districts 65 and 202.

The specific objectives of the AAYA program are as follows:
• To draw attention to and generate support for the majority of young African Americans who demonstrate determination and achievement in school, in their community and in their life;

• To inspire youth to recognize that academic and social achievement is desirable and attainable and that they are “doing the right thing” in aggressively pursuing their educational, social and personal goals and to encourage them to spread the gospel that achievement matters;

• To provide images and visible reminders through the African American Youth Achievement Award honorees and their families that achievement matters;

• To energize adults to continue to rededicate themselves to preparing all children to meet the academic standards of the 2lst century.

Each school nominates two individuals, one male, one female. ETHS nominates eight students – one male and one female per grade level.

The nominees are those who best demonstrate the characteristics of pioneering African American pathfinders by excelling in one of the following categories: character, civility, community service, leadership, scholarship or sportsmanship.
Award Recipients for 2013:

ETHS – Randall Foreman, Francesca Frost, William Jones, Katie Lifanda, Kianna Moore, Ange Ngongang, Andre Wallace and Ella-Marie West
Bessie Rhodes School – Ryan Nicole Johnson and Matthew Webley
Chute Middle School – Alex Moore and Laurianne Pene
Dawes School – Jacquelyn Baker and Antonio Smith
Dewey School – Hannah Hunter and Michael Lichtfuss
Haven Middle School – Bryce Bias and Nora Robinson
King Lab School – Tauja Foreman and Elyjah Williams
Kingsley School – Shanice Greene and Damon Triplett
Lincoln School – Stephon Bowden and Sophia Brown
Lincolnwood School – Trinity J. Jenkins and Titus Ogungbemi
Nichols Middle School – Michael Henry and Darice Wheeler
Oakton School – Mecari Macon and Eric Mitchell
Orrington School – Tyler Mayne and Johnathon Lucas-Tolbert
Walker School – Amen Ausar and Morgan Riley
Washington School – Isaiah Edmond and Jada Hamer
Willard School – Elijah Gist and Ariana Mitchell

As part of the AAYA program, the Living Legend-Trailblazer Award honors African American Evanstonians for their leadership and community contributions that encourage and inspire African American youth. The 2013 recipient of the Living Legend-Trailblazer Award is Gerri Sizemore.  

Ms. Sizemore has worked diligently to improve the lives of children, young adults and seniors through volunteer service at various local organizations. She worked for the U.S. Postal Service for more than 36 years, serving as supervisor for customer service retail operations for over 20 years.