SOAR wins Ruby Bridges Student Leadership and Courage Award


SOAR accepted the award at the National Summit for Courageous Conversation in New Orleans, Louisiana on October 15. (Courtesy of J.C. Farr)

By Josie Spiegelman, Editor in Chief

The Tamalpais Unified High School District’s (TUHSD) Students Organized Against Racism (SOAR) program received the Ruby Bridges Student Leadership and Courage Award during the National Summit for Courageous Conversation held by the Pacific Educational Group (PEG) on October 15. 

A tribute to Ruby Bridges, one of five African American girls to first attend a segregated school in Louisiana, it is awarded to students who “demonstrate the power of courage and leadership required to successfully navigate community and school culture and climate to achieve at the highest levels as an expression of their passion, practice, and persistence” according to the National Summit for Courageous Conversation’s website. 

PEG, a nationwide firm dedicated to starting meaningful conversations about race in schools, was involved with the creation of SOAR and evaluated the group on their work during the 2018-2019 school year Breakthrough Day

“We invited them [Pacific Education Group] to come out and see what we were doing on our campus,” Principal J.C. Farr said.“From that, they were able to recognize outstanding work that our students and our staff were doing to interrupt racist practices and develop the racial consciousness of the students in Marin County.” 

Sophomore Ruby Amezcua, president of SOAR and a reporter for The Tam News, believes that SOAR’s additional work outside of Breakthrough Day also contributed to them receiving the award. 

“Breakthrough day was not the only reason for SOAR receiving the award. The primary reason was that Courageous Conversations gave us certain guidelines and here at Tam we created the club, workshops and Breakthrough Day, and at Drake and Redwood, they [the district] created the class. Essentially [TUHSD] took action and created something from guidelines.” Amezcua said. “Receiving this award was an honor. Everyone was very happy and proud. However, it was also surprising to receive an award, when we felt that we had not done enough to deserve it. It also put into perspective how little other schools are doing in comparison, which was a little jarring.”