KATE MCAVOY is a senior at Susan E. Wagner High School in Staten Island. In her sophomore year, Ms. McAvoy’s life was forever changed. On Sept. 11, 2001, she lost her father, a firefighter, at the World Trade Center. In response to her father’s death, she was inspired to spread messages of peace, acceptance, and anti-violence. In her school, Ms. McAvoy serves as the lead peer mediation specialist, handling difficult conflicts among students before they have the chance to escalate. She has participated in a 20/20 John Stossel Special Report entitled ‘Social Cruelty in America,’ which is now being used by conflict resolution experts across the country.Ms. McAvoy has also given seminars on school bullying and the Holocaust, and has traveled to the South to meet with civil rights leaders through the Acres Program, in which she studies and speaks about the civil rights movement. She has recently participated as the lead facilitator of Stand and Lead, a program which teaches moral courage and the importance of standing up for those who can not stand up for themselves. Ms. McAvoy spoke at the United Nations at the Seasons of Peace seminar, and introduced the ADL’s A World of Difference program into her school after a disturbance between Muslim, Christian, and Jewish students. Her mentor, and previous Spirit Award Educator, George Anthony, says, “She has given so much of herself, and asked for so little. Our school and community has benefited because of her.”
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