Four student leaders from Hopkins High School have been named winners of a Cultural Jambalaya 2018 Diversity Award for their work in advancing multiculturalism and ethnic diversity in their community.
Hopkins 2018 graduates Aaisha Said, Ben Herstig, Miranda Shapiro, and Ilham Nur won the award for their work as senior leaders of the Hopkins High School group HHS Responds.
“These amazing winners demonstrate a collective understanding of the cultures, ethnicities, and races that make Minnesota a dynamic, prosperous, and tolerant place,” said Ann Merrill, board chair of Cultural Jambalaya.
Cultural Jambalaya is a Twin Cities-based nonprofit that promotes respect and understanding for all cultures. The students are invited to accept the award at Cultural Jambalaya’s annual gala Oct. 4 at 5:30 p.m. at the Metropolitan Ballroom in Golden Valley.
HHS Responds brings together culturally diverse students from all backgrounds and perspectives in a safe place to discuss cultural, political, and ideological differences and controversial topics.
“We wanted everyone to be represented,” Said said. “We took the initiative to take advantage of our school’s demographics and make it a place where each and every one of those students felt welcomed. It is so important for every human being to feel accepted and celebrated, and HHS Responds does that.”
HHS Responds students have led numerous events to promote diversity and understanding at the high school. In addition to fishbowl conversations, they have a hosted a large community forum, a Black History Month parade, and cultural music events. The group has also worked with the school to provide gender neutral bathrooms.
Jen Bouchard, a Hopkins School Board member, is impressed with the work HHS Responds has done in the Hopkins community. She has seen staff, citizens, and community leaders benefit from the insights and leadership of HHS Responds.
“Because the senior leaders mentor new leaders, the program is sustainable and will benefit the school and greater community for years to come,” Bouchard said. “These students are leaving their legacy.”