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The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

14th Brookline Youth Awards honors 77 teens

After sorting through 115 pages of nominations and conducing 12 student interviews, the Brookline Youth Awards nomination committee chose junior Ezra Kleinbaum as the 2024 Brookline Youth of the Year.

Students and families flooded the Coolidge Corner Theater for a night of inspirational stories from student voices within the community: the 14th annual Brookline Youth Awards, on Monday, May 20.

Hosted by publisher R. Harvey Bravman and Brookline Hub, the ceremony recognized Brookline teens who have significantly contributed to their community. After a short introduction, a 50-minute video was displayed, which introduced the 65 Brookline Recognition Award winners and the 12 Brookline Youth Award winners: juniors Abigail Ketema, Antonia Duffield, Geo Elasmar, Kiran Bhatia, Ezra Kleinbaum and Sophia Heinrich, and seniors Claire Sudduth, Daniela Echeverria, Morgan Grace, Tyler Barber, Will Simkiss-Reddington and Patrice Desir. The night ended by revealing the five Brookline Youth of the Year finalists and Kleinbaum as the winner.

Grace was one of the finalists for Brookline Youth of the Year. Along with her commitment to community service, she has been an advocate for racial reform at the high school. Grace said she believes in contributing to the community that invested in her.

“The community helps raise you as much as your parents do,” Grace said. “I think that giving back to my community just shows my appreciation for everything that they’ve done for me.”

The Brookline Youth Awards also honored groups who served the community. Junior Grace Benavidez is a director of Brookline Cares, a local non-profit organization that helps support the homeless population around Boston. Benavidez said it felt good having her work acknowledged.

“I think that as long as we make as much of an impact as we can on the advocacy for people experiencing homelessness, it is a great thing to get recognized and to continue the impact,” Benavidez said.

According to Bravman, the Brookline Youth Awards employs a different perspective from other award ceremonies that recognize students.

“I think the community needs to know its young people and not just who got all A’s or who is the captain of the football team,” Bravman said. “It’s important to know what’s inside the students and learn about people who are struggling with some sort of adversity and celebrate them when they overcome it.”

Senior Fenno Galaburda was nominated for volunteering, tutoring and being a social justice advocate. He said it is important to appreciate upstanding students.

“I think it’s important because all these people are doing such cool things, and there’s a bunch of activists, and they’re all changing the world,” Galaburda said. “I think it’s important to honor them and give them recognition.”

The winners of the Brookline Youth Awards were selected by a diverse 25-person committee which included the police chief, teachers and representatives from local businesses. The committee considered 115 pages of nominations before selecting the recipients. Bravman said having multiple perspectives was essential for the decision.

“People from different walks of life can look at it through their lens, and it’s worked out pretty well that way,” Bravman said. “I think it’s better for the students if we have a group of opinions and then make the decision from there.”

The selection process for the Brookline Youth Awards requires a lot of time and preparation. Bravman said the emotional impact of the ceremony is an inspiration for all his hard work and a reason he is passionate about the project.

“A lot of teachers come, and they don’t know the challenges that some students face, and parents sometimes even come, and they’ll learn something about their own son or daughter. It’s just a really cool moment,” Bravman said. “So it’s my favorite thing to do, and I put a lot into it, but I get back a lot more than I put in it. It really fulfills me.”

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