Human Relations Commission honors Bridge-Builder recipients
By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Fri., Nov. 30, 2012
The Windsor Bridge-Builders Awards, sponsored by the Windsor Human Relations Commission, were created in 1995 to honor individuals, organizations and businesses that make outstanding contributions to human relations in town. The 2012 honorees of the award were Windsor High School Media Specialist Derrith Green, Windsor High School Resource Officer Kari Tkacz, and two WHS alumni, David Rendock and Rebecca Lazarus. The four recipients were honored at a presentation in the Town Hall’s Council Chambers on Nov. 29.
WHS Media Specialist Derrith Green was nominated for her work because of her involvement in the school with the Action Club and BRIDGES program, as well as her participation in Camp ANYTOWN. Green is the adult advisor of the Action Club, a social justice club which strives to promote awareness and combat against the so-called “isms,” such as racism and sexism. She helped facilitate “Mix It Up Day,” which promoted students to co-exist in the cafeteria during lunchtime while breaking out of their comfort zone and sitting with a new group of people they may not regularly spend time with. Green also brought to the school the BRIDGES program, which is a two-day anti-bullying and prejudice reduction program.
“The most important thing I want to teach students is the value of empathy,” Green said. “I tell students that with empathy comes understanding, and once we understand others, we are less likely to judge, discriminate against and cause harm to them.”
On a daily basis, Resource Officer Kari Tkacz can be seen mediating disputes between students who cannot co-exist for any reason from bias to simple adolescent behavior. Tkacz has attended a Civil-Rights and Anti-Bullying Seminar and will attending a Girls Symposium to broaden her understanding and knowledge of human relations issues. Tkacz also sought out and acquired “Girl’s Circle” for the high school and the Windsor Police Cadets program. The program promotes positive values, coping techniques and life skills for young women who participate.
David Rendock and Rebecca Lazarus were co-presidents of the Gay Straight Alliance, a group which supports gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning community and promotes awareness amongst the school community. They duo also served as student representatives at the National Conference for Community and Justice at Camp ANYTOWN, a five-day retreat to live amongst people who represent various cultural, ethnic and socioeconomic groups while learning values of leadership, community building and diversity. They now attend the University of Connecticut and Warren Wilson College, respectively.
“I went to ANYTOWN and my entire life changed, this spark that wasn’t there before erupted into this burning fire and made me who I am today,” Rendock said. “Since ANYTOWN, and learning what those people had to share, I knew I had to make a difference, that I had to at least try to make my school a safe and accepting place where people can feel free to express who they really are. That is my drive, my need for true self-expression.”