JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Northview High School senior Kiana Chambers has won the Atlanta area Princeton Prize in Race Relations and the $1,000 cash award that goes with it.
Chambers was among four Atlanta area students honored at the 10th anniversary Princeton Prize in Race Relations Award ceremony May 8. But Chambers received the $1,000 prize.
The Princeton Prize is given by Princeton University to students around country and sponsored by Princeton alumni and the Princeton Prize Committee. In addition to her prize, Chambers was invited to speak at the awards dinner in Atlanta, and she also participated at an on-campus Princeton Symposium on Race for Princeton Prize winners.
Chambers found out about the competition from her mom who was encouraging her to apply for college scholarship opportunities.
“She encouraged me to enter the Princeton Prize competition because I had been so involved with the Black History Committee,” Chambers said. “So I did.”
The application was comprised of mostly short essay questions to elicit how one is making a difference in race relations in school or the community.
At Northview, Chambers explained how it is a culturally mixed and diverse school that is predominantly Caucasian and Asian, with a black enrollment of 7 percent. She explained that over the years, Black History Month had experienced waning interest by the student population and by the administration.
Over the last three years, she and others on the Black History Committee turned its observance around. In the three years she served on the committee, the Black History Committee grew from 10 black students to 50 racially diverse members, and the February assembly became a celebration of black culture by multiple races.
“At Northview High School, they did not see Black History Month as something important in the school. They didn’t see why it was important for kids to miss school to come to an assembly,” Chambers said.
As president her senior year, Chambers and her co-president, Yasmine Nana-Yeboah, worked to turnaround that perception.
“So we tried to show them how black culture related to all cultures and races,” she said.
Last year, the committee was able to recruit celebrities such as radio personality Frank Ski to come and give motivational talks.
This year’s assembly was not mandatory nor was it all day, but school officials were impressed by the interest and the student-participation. Next year, it will be a daylong event.
At this year’s assembly, Chambers and Nana-Yeboah had a theme of “Still We Rise” (from the poet Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”) and recruited students of all races to perform skits or songs tracing the rise of civil rights through the decades.
The last two years, the assembly has been during the lunch period only. But this year, they not only recruited students to miss class, but teachers brought their classes during lunch to participate.
“There were two shows, and we still didn’t have enough seats,” she said.
Chambers said it was so successful, the administration plans to make a “full-blown” assembly again with all classes attending and wider participation.
In the fall, Chambers will attend Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she plans to study marketing.