Left: Fouse award winners Kandy Boakye and Frasier Hartnell received their awards from Westerville City Schools Superintendent Dr. John Kellogg.
More than 370 community members on January 20, 2020, attended the 15th Annual Westerville Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast Celebration, which featured the theme “Where Do We Go From Here: Community or Chaos?”
WBNS 10TV morning news anchor Angela An hosted the gathering at Villa Milano, where keynote speaker Rev. Vaughn Bell, establishing pastor of the Triumphant Church of God, urged attendees to continue to build a Beloved Community by being brave and calling attention to injustices when they witness them. Rev. Bell told attendees that the phrase “If you see something, say something” isn’t just applicable to safety concerns, but that it should serve as a guiding philosophy to follow when anyone witnesses or hears about injustice to others.
Two Westerville City School District students received Fouse Awards at the event. This award is named in memory of William H. Fouse, who in 1884 became the first black graduate of Westerville’s two-year high school. He earned an undergraduate degree from Otterbein College, a master’s from the University of Cincinnati and, later, an honorary doctorate from Otterbein. He became an esteemed educator, serving as principal of the Paul Dunbar High School in Lexington, Kentucky.
Westerville South High School Senior Kandy Boakye received her Fouse Award for wanting her school’s theatre department to be representative of her school community, as well as for taking action to share her passion for theatre with people who understood her story and with peers who looked like her.
According to the award program summary, “Boakye worked passionately to bring her theatre troupe into her social group and worked equally hard to bring her peers together with theatre. She took over much of the planning and execution of the Black History Month celebrations at South, and created an environment where students of any background or culture were encouraged to celebrate their heritage. Boakye has led by example, finding rides for her friends, making rehearsals more inclusive, and working with the troupe to create a cooperative learning environment. This year, she joined the Westerville South High School Board as an elected officer, a testament to the respect she has earned from her peers.”
As a result of Boakye’s efforts, WSHS recently premiered an all-female, all-student-of-color show, “School Girls (or the African version of the Mean Girls play).” This was a regional first for central Ohio and only the second high school in the country to produce it. Boakye’s tenacity for diversity and representation led WSHS to the title and the production, in which she played the lead.
Fouse Award recipient Fraser Hartnell, a student at McVay Elementary, is a responsible leader who is also involved in Safety Patrol and Student Council. According to the award program summary, “He participated in planning Red Ribbon Week to encourage youngsters to say no to drugs. He is always smiling and has a positive attitude towards school and his personal relationships with students and staff. Because he puts forth a strong effort in academics, Hartnell excels in the classroom, where he enthusiastically participates and is a positive role model. His behavior and work habits are excellent and he is respectful and helpful to all who cross his path…He shows tolerance towards others and is accepting of the cultural diversity in the school. Hartnell has received the Student of the Month Pride Award every year he has been at McVay. His kindness is contagious and he is a peacemaker in his daily life. Outside of school, Hartnell participates in flag football and has earned a black belt in taekwondo.”
At the conclusion of the event, Rev. Bell, who is serving as Vice President of the Westerville City Schools Board of Education this year, was surprised with the inaugural MLK Legacy Award for his ongoing efforts to keep the dream of Dr. King alive in our community.
According to Leadership Westerville Program Manager Matt Lofy, who also serves on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast Celebration’s planning committee, “Moving forward, this award will be given to a community leader who for years has fought injustices in our community and advocated for those who don’t have a voice…and match the same bar set by Vaughn Bell and his 15 years of servant leadership to Westerville.”