Local Peace Scholarship Candidates win $1,000 each for Joint Project ; Adopt-a-Grandparent

by contributed

Emma Herek of Royall High School and Jessica Patton of Mauston High School won this year’s Peace Scholarship for their “Adopt-a-Grandparent” project. According to Juneau County Peace Committee president John McGinley each student was awarded $1,000 toward college expenses. “This is the first time we have ever awarded more than $1,000 for a single project,” McGinley said. “They did an excellent job; they did something that no other candidates have done before and deserved a special award.”

Herek and Patton teamed up after each one independently decided to start an “Adopt-a-Grandparent” program at their own school. They both chose their project because they saw the need for youth and elderly connections and wanted youth to be more aware of community history. They talked with each other and decided to collaborate on the same project. They enlisted the help of their peers to visit the elderly at nursing homes.

Their project focused on giving the participants a sense of belonging; sometimes family members of the elderly live far away and cannot visit their loved ones. Those involved in the project would participate by conversation and activities with the elderly. It was difficult at first to gain participation from other high school students, but after the first visit fellow students couldn’t wait to come back according to the scholarship winners.

“Emma and Jessica developed a concept of peace that was a little different from what we’ve heard from students in the past,” said McGinley. “They wrote, ‘Peace in our eyes is a society full of people who feel like they belong, people who are valued within their community, and people who live in harmony with each other… communities where everyone feels connected and feels like they belong have less hatred and violence.’ What made this really special is that students from different schools worked together, shared feedback and ideas, and put together a project that touched many lives. I hope we see more collaboration between students of different schools in the future,” he said.

About the Peace Scholarship

The Juneau County Peace Committee offers a scholarship to graduating seniors of Juneau County high schools and graduates who design and execute a peacemaking project. The program begins with a kickoff meeting in October and scholarship candidates present their work in April.

About the Juneau County Peace Committee

The Juneau County Peace Committee is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation headquartered in Mauston.