Students at Ridge Community High School Receive Human Rights Award

Students who are a part of the Sigma Alpha Sigma organization at Ridge Community High School were honored on Tuesday with the Martin Luther King, Jr. award by Polk Education Association President Marianne Capoziello. 

Capoziello presented the award on behalf of the Florida Education Association as part of their annual recognition of individuals and groups who have made significant contributions to the advancement of Human and Civil Rights. 

Sigma Alpha Sigma is a student leadership organization founded at Ridge Community High School in 2010.  Sigma’s goal is to change school culture from one where failure, violence, and misbehavior are acceptable to a culture where success is the norm and excellence is the standard for all.  Sigma does this by creating positive peer pressure through training to lead, mentor, and tutor. 

Sigma was created by RCHS teachers Thomas Lentz and Amanda McCallister in collaboration with one of their students, Cristina Vega.  They were inspired by attending the National Education Association’s (NEA) annual convention to create a place where students can become true, credible partners in education.

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García recently saw Sigma Alpha Sigma in action.

“The teachers at Ridge Community High School understood the power of giving power to their students,” she wrote. “The students of Sigma Alpha Sigma took that power and have created a family. They are brothers and sisters now. They will not allow their brothers and sisters to fail.”

Sigma was nominated for the award by Capoziello as well as Darlene Bradley, the mayor of Davenport Florida.

Bradley wrote that their involvement in the city not only makes the community better but gives them an opportunity for, “developing way beyond their teenage years.”  She went on to say that, “they are just amazing, influential and their spirit is contagious to all students at Ridge Community High School.”

Also in attendance during the presentation were students from Edgewater High School in Orlando.  These students are working on starting a second chapter of Sigma at their school.  This creation of a Beta chapter was made possible by a donation from the Terracon Foundation.