Youth of the Year Award
Fifteen-year-old Messiah Ramkissoon has been home-schooled by his parents for his entire education. Recently, he has taught his peers the importance of staying true to themselves through a monthly radio show, which he has always ended with "Messiah's Message."
"I'm not really a preacher, more like a teacher in a lot of ways. Being able to apply what you know and believe . . . in a time when they really need to hear it," he said.
Messiah, of Annapolis, recently won the State Youth of the Year Award for Maryland from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, and he hopes to receive the national title this summer. Along with the state title came a $25,000 scholarship from the Oprah Winfrey Angel Network, and he will appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
If Messiah--who wants to study medicine at Howard University--wins the national title, he will receive an additional $10,000 in scholarship money.
For the last five years, Messiah has been active in the Annapolis Gardens and Bywater branches of the Boys and Girls Clubs. He has co-produced and co-hosted a Boys and Girls Clubs public affairs radio show called the "Air Club," now on hiatus until September. The show, on which he has discussed drugs, violence, education and other issues, was broadcast on the third Saturday of each month on WYRE 810 AM, based in Annapolis.
Messiah teaches martial arts to more than 200, 6- to 12-year-old members of the Boys and Girls Clubs. He also does community service and plans fund-raisers for the Keystone Club of the Boys and Girls Clubs, and he also co-hosted a congressional dinner for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.
Messiah, who was born in Trinidad, moved to Annapolis when he was 8. Soon after, he returned to Trinidad, then, at age 11, he moved back to Annapolis with his family.
He attributes his success to his parents and the "spiritually grounded" home that they provide for him, his older brother, age 29, and his two younger sisters, ages 7 and 3.
The Rev. Carlton W. Veazy
Gloria Steinem Award
The Rev. Carlton W. Veazy, of Kensington, chief executive of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, received the Gloria Steinem Award from the Ms. Foundation for his leadership of the coalition's Black Church Initiative and his nationwide effort to help African American churches address sexuality issues.
Veazy, a minister of the National Baptist Convention U.S.A. and the pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in Washington, received the award last month at a ceremony held in New York.
Sandy Hutto and Mary Barlow
The Montgomery County Council of the Parent Teacher Association recognized Sandy Hutto and Mary Barlow, both of Gaithersburg, as Outstanding Parents. The two have children in Resnick Elementary School and serve as chairmen of the PTA's Special Needs Committee.
Black Knights Chess Team
First place at chess competition
A team of Montgomery County students won first place at a regional chess tournament sponsored by the U.S. Chess Center. The Black Knights Chess Team includes Yichen Ying, 12, Eric Ma, 11, and Jonathan Zytnick, 12, of Takoma Park Middle School; Robert Jin, 13, of Neelsville Middle School; Edward Hsieh, 11, of Cabin John Middle School; and Erik Schaeffer, 11, of Our Lady of Mercy in Potomac. The team is part of the Potomac Youth Chess League, which includes teams of kindergartners through eighth-graders from Washington, Maryland and Virginia.
Young Artist and Writing Awards
Four students honored
The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, a program to recognize creative students, will honor local students at a national awards ceremony to be held June 19 at the Kennedy Center. Christopher Fitzwater, 18, of Poolesville, will receive the Gold Portfolio Award for art and photography. Ivone Kim, Roman Salcic and Lauren Wolf--all age 18 and of Bethesda, will receive Silver Portfolio Awards for art.
Path of Achievement Awards
Senior citizens honored for commitment
Five senior residents of Montgomery County received the 1999 Path of Achievement Awards for their accomplishments and commitment to their community in five categories.
Rockville resident Kermit Mohn was honored for advocacy. He has served more than 15 years with the Commission on People with Disabilities, including three years as its chairman.
Boyds resident Peg Coleman, the founder of the Boyds-Clarksburg-Germantown Historical Society, was honored for arts and humanities. She is the author of "Montgomery County: A Pictorial History" and the founder and editor of the "Montgomery County Preservationists" newsletter.
Kensington resident Richard Kelly was honored for community service. For more than 14 years, he has volunteered with the homeless, providing them with food, clothing and blankets, and driving individuals to medical appointments, school, the Social Security office and church.
Gaithersburg resident John Harvill, who has been the football coach of Gaithersburg High School for 50 years, was honored for sports and fitness. In those years, he has led his team to the state championship game four times, winning the title twice.
Rockville resident Nina Clarke was honored for her workplace contributions. She has been a teacher and a mentor for Montgomery County public school students for 36 years. She is also the co-author of "A History of the Black Public Schools of Montgomery County, Md., 1872-1961," and the author of "A History of 19th-Century Black Churches in Maryland and the District of Columbia." She currently works as a docent for the Montgomery County Historical Society.
Kevin J. Kelehan
Kevin J. Kelehan, of Howard County, has been chosen as one of 74 Distinguished Leadership Award recipients by the National Association of Community Leadership. Kelehan, a partner in the law firm of Reese and Carney in Columbia, has promoted the practice of lawyers giving pro bono service to charitable causes through the Lawyers' Clearing House program.
Cartoon contest winner
Amanda Harrison, an eighth-grader at Trinity School in Ellicott City, won a cartoon contest sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for "Student Bay Savers." Contestants were asked to draw a cartoon that conveys an environmental message.
Manus J. O'Donnell
Audrey Robbins Humanitarian Award
Manus J. O'Donnell, the Howard County director of citizen services, received the 1999 Audrey Robbins Humanitarian Award from the Association of Community Services. The award was named for the former Howard County director of Social Services and has been presented annually since 1975.
O'Donnell has served as director of citizen services for 19 years, handling issues involving aging, transportation, disabilities, human rights, homelessness, mental health and family matters.
The Columbia Association's annual Spirit of Columbia Scholarship was awarded to six Columbia residents at a ceremony last month. Each winner, graduating from high school this year, received $2,500 to be used toward college tuition. Scholarship recipients are: Brian Chant, for his involvement with the Ellicott City Volunteer Fire Department and the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps; Nailah Jackson, for her work mentoring children at St. Agnes Hospital and tutoring youngsters; Katie McDermond, for her commitment as a peer helper and assistance with a canned-food and blanket drive; Jennifer O'Keefe, for her community service with Habitat for Humanity and her role as a leader of Drug Abuse Resistance Education; Bradley Wasser, for his work with Leadership U of Howard County and the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization; and Stephanie Waters, for her work at a soup kitchen and for her involvement as a student representative to the Howard County Board of Education.
Five Montgomery County students received $500 scholarships from the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program of Montgomery County. Scholarship recipients are Amparo Macias, 17, Vakiyyah Salaam, 17, Gene Thomas Yocum, 18, Madigan Bourdeau, 17, and Kina Collins, 17. Each year CASA honors students who, despite facing challenges such as homelessness, physical disabilities and child abuse, have achieved notable accomplishments in academics, arts, athletics, community service and overall achievement.
CAPTION: Messiah Ramkissoon, 15, won a $25,000 scholarship.