Proviso Township High Schools District 209 was heavily represented at events honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. over the weekend celebrating his birthday.
The events included two teachers and a student from Proviso East High School being honored for their service and community involvement. The awards were presented by Operation UpLift at its 25th Annual Birthday Awards Luncheon of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Saturday, January 19, at the Diplomat West in Elmhurst.
Semaj Hunter, 15 and a junior at Proviso East, won the Leon S. Brown "21" Youth Award, for his volunteerism, academic achievement, peer leadership and role modeling influence for area youth. Lawrence Broughton, a social studies teacher at Proviso East, received the Dr. Margaret T. Burroughs Lifetime Achievement Award for his longtime work as a commissioner with the Maywood Park District. In addition, Reginald Wright, the director of bands at Proviso East, won a Surprise Award honoring his work with area youth in the music programs from the Operation UpLift Board of Directors at the ceremony.
Tony Valente, principal at Proviso East High School, said the honors were well deserved by the trio.
"Mr. Broughton and Mr. Wright are model teachers for the rest of our staff," Mr. Valente said. "(Semaj is) an example in his conduct and academic achievement. They all embody the ideals of Dr. King."
Semaj was described by presenter, Dr. Cynthia Broughton, as being a "leader by example." An honors student with a 3.9 of 4.0 grade point average, he is the co-chair of the Proviso East African-American Heritage Club. He also hopes to be a pediatrician when he grows up, a position that he said he took a step toward last summer when he shadowed a pediatrician.
"I feel great about it," Semaj said of the award. "I want to thank my teacher [Mr. Lawrence Broughton, who nominated him for the award] because he helped me."
Students from Proviso Township High Schools District 209 also played several roles in the festivities celebrating Dr. King’s legacy. This included participation at the Hillside Human Relations Commission’s and the Village of Hillside’s 12th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast on Monday, January 21, at the Best Western Chicago Hillside.
The Proviso East High School Jazz Band performed at the awards luncheon. At the breakfast, the Proviso West High School Color Guard posted the colors, and Brandon Bruscato, a junior at Proviso Math and Science Academy, performed an original piece on the piano. The breakfast was closed with a choir of students from Proviso West High School leading the audience in the singing of "Lift Every Voice and Sing."
Dan Adams, Board President, said that he was proud to see the level of recognition and participation by teachers and students from the school district at the awards luncheon and breakfast.
"We have many talented students and teachers in our district, and it is inspiring to see them recognized for the work they do," he said. "It is also heartening to see the talents and effort of our students on display in the community."