Decatur High School Students Win Hometown Hero Awards

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The meddle Hometown Hero’s receive. The award, which was mailed to all recipients, is typically presented at an in-person ceremony every year.

Decatur High School seniors Lauryn Williams, Genesis Reddicks, and Daxton Petus won Decatur’s 2020 Hometown Hero Award. The award is designed to highlight Decatur residents’ service to their community and has honored over 325 residents since its creation in 1996. 

The students were awarded for their work on service projects and youth organizing in Decatur.

Lauryn Williams was nominated for her work as a volunteer coordinator on the MLK service project in Jan. 2020. The project was designed to help senior citizens clean up and manage their homes “so they could have a great start to 2020,” Williams said. 

In the months leading up to the project, Williams worked to recruit students and community volunteers, reaching out to administrators and clubs in the school. 

“Servicing people in our community that need it most is incredibly important,” Williams said. “I think the hometown hero award really goes to show and honor people who are trying their best.”

Genesis Reddicks was nominated by DHS Administrator Ms. Sturm for her work on Beacon Hill’s Art for the People project, co-founding a journalism club at Renfroe Middle School and assisting with the MLK Marker project. 

In the RMS journalism club, students practice writing and editing news stories. They receive guidance from Reddicks as they learn about journalistic writing. Reddickcs hopes that her work with Renfroe students will also help attract a more diverse group of students to the program. 

“Our goal was to encourage middle school students from all different types of backgrounds to pursue an interest in journalism and ultimately pursue convergence as a class,” Reddicks said. 

Reddicks has also worked as a student leader on the Art For the People Project, a student led initiative with a goal to “tell the stories of colonialism and white supremacy from the perspective of communities who are often marginalized,” according to their project webpage.

On the Commemorating King Marker Project, Reddicks worked as one of the student leaders the project to memorialize King’s trial in Decatur’s courthouse. Genesis has worked to raise awareness about the marker, speaking to journalists from papers like the Associated Press and AJC and hosting school town halls with civil rights leaders. The project has $10,000 and recently gained approval from the Georgia Historical Society.

She was “pleased” that the city recognized the work she had been doing and was grateful for the support system she said helped her throughout the process.

Finally, Daxton Petus, president of Black Student Union (BSU), was nominated by administrator Wesely Hatfield for his work with BSU and youth organizing in the community. 

Through BSU and Beacon Hill, Petus organized students around issues with the disciplinary code at Decatur High School and helped organize anti-racism conversations at DHS. He has also worked along side Reddicks on Beacon Hill’s Art for the people project, helping engage DHS students and community members with the organization’s work.

According to Petus, he was nominated by Hatfiled “for his care and passion to make change in the student body.” Petus says he feels passionate about making change in his community and is glad the city recognized the importance of these projects.

The students have already received their awards and will have a possible virtual award ceremony early next year.