To emphasize that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream is alive in Carroll County's youth, the local chapter of the NAACP honored five students with the organization's Living the Dream Award during the 13th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast earlier this month.
"The award really taps into the future. It connects Dr. King's dream from the past with where we are right now with our students," said Patricia Mack-Preston, a Carroll County NAACP member and the award's initiator. "A lot of times, African-American youth are portrayed negatively in the media. There are a lot of negative things happening in the African-American community but also a lot of positive things and we wanted to highlight that. That's really what the award does. We want to highlight students who have a desire to help others without shining a light on themselves."
According to Mack-Preston, honorees must exemplify King by providing service to their community, demonstrating commitment to academic excellence, participating in activities and clubs that promote equality for all people and engaging in faith-based activities.
Quinton Allen, Anuoluwapo Olawale, Jordan Landry Tuekam Wabo, Tré Woodyard and Victor Paylor were this year's award winners.
"What I love about the award was that during the presentation I could hear audience members responding with 'Wow!' and 'That's impressive!' as they were hearing the characteristics and accomplishments of the finalists," Mack-Preston said. "This is the second year we have students that blow us away in what they are doing in the community and in the schools. It really promotes a positive image of young people in our community."
Westminster High School senior Quinton Allen, of Westminster, has accumulated 444 service learning hours as a junior counselor at the Boys and Girls Club of Westminster Camp and the Hashawha Outdoor School.
Allen is an aspiring chef and said King's message means patience, pride and hard work.
"I chose those … because those are the three things I'll need if I want to succeed in the culinary industry," he said.
Allen has participated in four years of vacation bible school and youth choir at New Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Norfolk, Virginia, and is a member of Speak To My Heart Ministries in Baltimore. He is also a member of the school's sign language club and plays on the football team.
Westminster High School counselor Stephen Byrnes, who nominated Allen, said he is happy to give him some recognition.
"Quinton is a really outgoing young man and spends a lot of time volunteering and participating in school activities," Byrnes said. "He gives a lot of himself. He's a big part of our school, and he's volunteered a lot with the community, mentoring younger students."
Allen has also served food for two years at the National Coalition for the Homeless through the Soul Factory Church in Forestville.
"I didn't have everything but I had enough; and I know a lot of people didn't have anything at all, so I want to give back to people," Allen said. "It feels best giving back when it's food related because it's easy to see that I'm doing the right thing."
Winters Mill High School sophomore Anuoluwapo Olawale, of Westminster, has earned 144 service learning hours volunteering with the Carroll Hospital Center and the Carroll County Public Library's Summer Reading Program.
"I like to get out of the house and interact with people. I don't want to be a waste of time," said Anuoluwapo, who goes by Anu.
Winters Mill High School counseling department chairwoman Christina Krone, who nominated Anu, said she is very positive role model, especially for younger students.
"Anu does a lot with the hospital, helping with whatever is needed. She's also on the executive board of the SGA and is very involved with increasing our school spirit. I could see her being in the 'helping' field," Krone said.
Anu said honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is important to her because "he sacrificed a lot of his life to make sure generations after him have the same equality as everybody else. That means a lot to me."
Jordan Landry Tuekam Wabo
Winters Mill High School senior Jordan Landry Tuekam Wabo, of Westminster, has amassed 1,169 service learning hours volunteering at the Christian Missionary Fellowship International. He said he cleans the church and mans the sound system on Sundays.
"I enjoy helping," Wabo said.
Winters Mill High School counselor Heidi Kohls, who nominated Wabo, said he has handled relocating from Cameroon, Africa, to Westminster very well. Wabo moved to the area three years ago.
"He has had to learn a whole new language and he's doing great. He is very effervescent. He didn't play sports in Africa, so he plays everything here. He's also very goal oriented," Kohls said.
Wabo is also a member of Winters Mill's Stand Up, Unity and Key clubs, and participates on the school's football, tennis, track and wrestling teams.
Winters Mill High School junior Tré Woodyard, of Westminster, has earned 42 service learning hours refereeing and coaching at area youth basketball camps.
Kohls, who also nominated Woodyard, said he is an amazing athlete and strong role model.
"He's always positive and happy, and he's very generous and kind," she said. "Tré has a lot of leadership potential. He always looks out for others."
Kohls praised Woodyard for taking the initiative to enroll in the Carroll County Career and Technology Center's homeland security and criminal justice classes.
"He is the most amazing, resilient child. ... You can feel the strength in him," Kohls said.
Woodyard, who plans to become a police officer, said he just wants to help his community.
Winters Mill High School senior Victor Paylor, of Westminster, has acquired 120 service learning hours by volunteering for Strawbridge United Methodist Church's cemetery cleanup, fundraising for the church's missions and participating the group's puppet ministry.
"I enjoy teaching the children the ways of God through puppets to help them understand it better," Paylor explained. "When my church members were going to Haiti to rebuild things after the earthquake, I helped organize car washes and food drives to raise money for their trip."
Krone, who nominated Paylor, said he is a team player.
"He's always willing to help out and he's so well-rounded," Krone said.
Paylor coaches youth basketball and is involved with the school's National Honor Society and Varsity Club. He also plays basketball and competes in track for Winters Mill High School.
Paylor said Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrates "a man who was willing to stand up for people of all races — black, white, purple, green, blue. He was able to stand up for opportunities for African-Americans, and we now have the same rights that other people would have."
Latest Carroll County News