Fair Haven, New Jersey High School Senior is Among 12 Winners of ACLU College Scholarship for Youth Activism

Affiliate: ACLU of New Jersey
May 23, 2001 12:00 am

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NEWARK, NJ – – The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey today announced that Annie Preziosi of Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School is one of 12 seniors nationwide to be awarded a $4,000 college scholarship in recognition of her exceptional contributions to the struggle to defend civil liberties.

tice and equality,”” said Deborah Jacobs, Executive Director of the ACLU of New Jersey. “”She has proven herself to be a true believer who seeks to educate, when appropriate, and is willing to fight, when needed, to preserve liberty for all.””

As a high school junior, Annie Preziosi noticed that students in her U.S. History class spent a lot of time debating social issues. With her own interest in social issues piqued, Ms. Preziosi decided to study and write about the Establishment Clause of the Constitution for an independent research project. In doing this Ms. Preziosi learned about the ACLU and decided to do more than just educate herself – she decided to start an ACLU student chapter at her school.

“”Although my research satisfied me for a while, it also inflamed my desire to learn more and do more about the issues I discuss with my classmates,”” said Ms. Preziosi. “”Furthermore I was still concerned with how the intense opinions of my classmates could be converted into action.””

While continuing to earn top grades at her school, Ms. Preziosi was able to generate a great deal of interest in her club, from fellow classmates to local press. The initial meeting attracted 30 students. She also managed to get two local newspapers, The Asbury Park Press and the Two River Times, to positively cover the formation of the club.

In December 2000, the Rumson-Fair Haven High School ACLU club sponsored its first event, an assembly for seniors in celebration of Bill of Rights Day. The assembly featured a debate about student government, a skit about police pulling some teenagers over in their car (featuring actual police officers), and a performance of the “”The Constitution Song.””

Even though the assembly was a success, the proposal for the assembly was rejected twice by the principal before permission for the event was granted. The first two proposals featured a gay couple who won the right to adopt children and current plaintiffs in a New Jersey school drug testing case.

“I hope that when I leave for college, the club will remain active, in the hands of another passionate student,”” said Preziosi, who will be attending New York University in the Fall. “”I plan to continue my involvement with the ACLU and my commitment to activism throughout college.””

In addition to Ms. Preziosi, this year’s other recipients hail from California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

Many of the students selected stood up for the rights of their peers by challenging the injustices inflicted upon them by school officials; created an ACLU chapter at their school; or interned at the ACLU affiliate office in their state. In 2000, the first year of the program, the ACLU awarded scholarships to eight high school seniors.

“”The ACLU’s College Scholarship for Youth Activism Award gives us an opportunity to recognize the courage of students like Ms. Preziosi and the example they set for their peers,”” said Nadine Strossen, President of the National ACLU. “”It truly is an honor to be able to provide these intelligent, resourceful and committed young people with support for their education.””

To learn about the other winners, please visit our web feature at http://archive.aclu.org/features/f052301a.html.

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