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The 17th annual African American Achievement Awards (AAYA) ceremony was held on Feb. 28 at Evanston Township High School. The program recognized the accomplishments of 38 African American youth who attend School District 65 and ETHS.

Each elementary and middle school selects two students (one male, one female) and ETHS selects eight students (one male and one female at each grade level). These students are those who best demonstrate the characteristics of pioneering African-American pioneers and pathfinders by excelling in one of the following categories: character, civility, community service, leadership, scholarship, or sportsmanship.

This year’s awardees are:

At District 65 – Matthew Hall and Arian White (Bessie Rhodes); Hailie Brown and Marcus Louis-Charles (Dawes); Zavion Gary and Brianna Lindsay (Dewey); Drew Dawkins and Theressa Tsaggaris (King Lab); Ashanti Keys and Demetrius Trotter (Kingsley); Quinn Hughes and Falilat Alethea Koconis (Lincoln); Jahnese Adams and Nathaniel Smith (Lincolnwood); Jeremiah Dixon and Solange Blake-Lazu (Oakton); Demitri Ernst Lauture and Astrid Pene (Orrington); Nicholas Jenkins and Brandy Lovensky (Walker); Najiah Osborne-Francellino and Brandon Rodgers (Washington); Patrick Baldwin and Nyah Daniel (Willard); Isaiah Harlan-Ricketts and Amissa Page-Samuels (Chute); Trey Dawkins and Jebbeh Fahnbulleh (Haven); Isaiah Braithwaite and Scholastica Phiri (Nichols).

At ETHS: Tameka Boston and Aaron Smith (Grade 9); Camille Allen and Ryan Foreman (Grade 10); Lauren English and Elliott Grant (Grade 11); Carl’Drail Cannon and Jasmine Crayton (Grade 12).

The AAYA program is part of a Black History Month initiative and was sponsored this year by the City of Evanston, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Evanston North Shore Alumnae Chapter, Family Focus Evanston, First Bank and Trust, McGaw YMCA, Northwestern University, NAACP, and Shorefront, in conjunction with School District 65 and ETHS.

As part of the AAYA program, the Living Legend-Trailblazer Award honors an African-American Evanstonian for his or her leadership and community contributions that encourage and inspire African-American youth. The 2014 recipient of the Living Legend-Trailblazer Award is Leon Robinson Jr.