Racine Unified announced Thursday the names of seven students from across the district who have worked inside their schools and throughout the community to actively improve the lives of others. These students – most of whom are seniors and graduating next month – have been recognized for their efforts with the annual Peacemakers Award.

Rian Vickery, Senior – Park High School

Vickery founded the Panther Pals at school to pair regular education students with students with disabilities as a way to break down barriers between the two groups. The Panther Pals basketball game gives students with disabilities the opportunity to join a member of the Park boys basketball team out on the floor, which is a highlight of the students’ school year.

“Peace is about respect. It’s crucial to respect the point of view of others before rushing to judgment about them,” she told the district. “You may not always agree with what others say and do, but if you respect them you can always find a peaceful solution to any conflict.”

Vickery will attend Carthage College in the fall where she plans to major in education and to earn a certificate in special education.

Kristi Parsons, Senior – Walden III

After attending Conserv School in northern Wisconsin for a semester, Parsons has been active in environmental causes and used her experience at Conserv to advocate for more earth-friendly solutions to a variety of situations, including the implementation of a carbon tax absent any financial impact.

Parsons helped lead the charge for a 4-way stop sign at 10th and Center, organized Walden’s first Earth Day recognition and activities, and helped collect 1,600 articles of clothing for area homeless shelters. Additionally, she just finished her term as a Racine County Youth in Governance Representative.

Parsons plans to continue volunteering through the summer and after she begins college in the fall where she will pursue a career in politics.

Maria Orozco, Senior – Horlick High School

Orozco has a passion for social justice, and she has been an active member of Youth Empowered in the Struggle. Her nomination was spurred in large part because of her ability to bring disparate groups together working for a common goal.

Kimberly Otzelberger, Junior – REAL School

Otzelberger was named a Peacemaker because of her mentoring activities and her gentle personality serves as a great example for other students.

Noelle Otto, Senior – Case High School

Otto has used her involvement in the Case theater program to craft messages of acceptance and present them to younger students both in and outside the district, including the Break the Hate Habit she helped create and produce to teach kids how to combat bullying.

Bria Gentry, Senior – Case High School

Gentry may have started high school as one of the “quiet kids,” but her participation in theater has allowed her to really shine. She participated with Otto in Break the Hate Habit productions and this year earned the right to produce her own senior show.

More, Gentry volunteered her time with Special Olympics and served as a theater teacher’s assistant for students with disabilities.

“Her warm heart and concern for others is seen in her many interactions with people,” the award nomination for Gentry reads. “Bria Gentry is an inspiration among her peers and a shining star among the staff at Case.”

Sadie Neave, Senior – Horlick High School / John XXIII Education Center

When Neave recognized that her grades were too low to continue on the path she was traveling, she had the courage to move herself from Horlick to John XXIII. Her determination and positive attitude paid off, and she is set to graduate next month. She is a Peacemaker Award recipient because of her wide-ranging volunteer activities and strong family values.

Bria Gentry
Kimberly Otzelberger
Kristi Parsons
Maria Orozco
Noelle Otto
Sadie Neave
Rian Vickery