racial harmony heroes

Each year, the Center for Racial Harmony, an organization dedicated to promoting understanding, cooperation, and communication among all races and groups, holds an annual Gathering in February. The primary function of The Racial Harmony Gathering is to honor students who have promoted goodwill and respect and have sought peaceful ways to resolve differences.  

This year's virtual Gathering award's ceremony, themed "Demonstrating Character Through Challenging Times", will be presented on Sunday, February 28, 2021, via Zoom in conjunction with their partnership with First United Presbyterian Church of Belleville, IL. 

Because of their outstanding personalities and support for those around them regardless of race or background, two PWH 105 students will be recognized at the Gathering. Pontiac Junior High eighth grader Ty Robertson and William Holliday fifth grader Gabryelle "Gabby" Nicholson were chosen to represent their schools as beacons of racial harmony in their school communities. Here is some information about both students.

Ty Robertson

Below are submissions from some of Ty’s teachers expressing their respect and appreciation for Ty’s positive attitude.

If we were to have had volleyball this year in our district, Ty Robertson would have been my captain. And not just because he has/had been on my team since the 6th grade. It’s because he EARNED it in the 6th grade. In all that he does, Ty is a team player. He puts his team first above all else and makes decisions based on the greatest good for his team, even at his own personal sacrifice. 

In the 6th grade, when Ty was asked to be the libero on the A team, he jumped at the chance, giving 110% every time he was put in a game. One time in particular, at a pre-season tournament, our team was having a horrible time. In fact, it was so bad that we had worked ourselves into a fast loss. Until I put Ty in the game. During a play that resulted in a pass so bad it went backwards, into the farest corner of the gym, Ty ran probably the hardest I have ever had a player run, made a SPECTACULAR play in the back corner of that gym, and sent the ball all the way over the net. That play resulted in a point for us and literally changed the trajectory of the entire tournament for our team. 

That one play boosted my entire team. That one play lead to a win, which lead to win after win after win to the championship. That one play showed all of my boys that one heart could carry our whole team. 

And in his 7th grade year, when another player took over the libero position, Ty graciously stepped aside for the betterment of our team. In fact, last year Ty played many different positions so our team could win. Ty became the setter because we needed a setter. Ty became a hitter because we needed a hitter. Ty sat the bench when someone was having a better night. He kept our team together when differences occurred. He helped cooler heads prevail when anger clouded the vision of a teammate. Ty always took on the role of our Captain.

There truly is no greater type of player than Ty Robertson and no greater type of person. Ty lends a hand to those in need and makes personal sacrifices for others. Now, of course I will tell you that Ty is smart, funny and a friend to all. But his greatest attribute is his ability to lead anyone. And they all follow because people trust Ty. They know he has a good head on his shoulders. They know he is loyal and fair. Ty Robertson is a fine example of the type of person we all need to lead us into the future.   - Dawn Poe
Ty loves to express his feelings on topics most would not.  He has a deep understanding of life and how to deal with problems that might arise.  He has a great sense of humor.  He always has a positive attitude and loves to take on leadership roles in class and outside the school.  With all the problems we have today Ty has expressed his hope for our future.  His positive attitude toward the future inspires so many people.   - Jennifer Burnett
Ty is a leader plain and simple. He represents Pontiac with great pride. He's a guy you can always count on and gives that extra 115% each day. He will do whatever he can to out work the guy next to him. I've been lucky enough to coach and teach Ty for the last 3 years. He is a special kid that tries to win each day in front of him.  

One thing Ty struggled early on at Pontiac was facing adversity. I've seen him evolve over the years to a guy that embraces it and takes it on. That's a special quality to have. I've been honored to get to know Ty over the past 3 years and can't wait to see what direction he takes in high school.   - Brooks McDowell

Gabby Nicholson

Gabby Nicholson is an excellent role model to her peers. She is very caring and always willing to help others. She continuously works hard to create a sense of community within the classroom. Gabby is caring and compassionate, has excellent leadership qualities, is highly motivated and driven, and is insightful and intuitive. Her teachers also had high praise for Gabby that they wanted to share.

Gabby is caring and compassionate: She is an excellent student ambassador. She would always take care of new students providing them with support and guidance as they adjusted to a new school setting and would assist in familiarizing them with other students within the classroom.
Gabby has excellent leadership qualities: Even through virtual learning, Gabby is still able to foster to the needs of others. She has been regularly participating in a student led news program with some of her peers which helps promote school events along with other segments which highlight the accomplishments of others.
Gabby is highly motivated and driven: Gabby always has a positive attitude, and is the first to show up to class and often the last to leave. Despite many circumstances beyond her control this school year, she always finds a way to fully participate in school and class activities.
Gabby is insightful and intuitive: She shows a lot of maturity for her age in being able to recognize the needs of others, showing care and concern for students of all ability levels and helping them feel valued.