Ashley Chico, Grade 10, Lake Highland Preparatory School, Orlando, Florida, adult sponsor Cece Scott
Ethan Davis, Grade 12, East Chapel Hill High School, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, adult sponsor Patricia Berge
Jonathan Johnson, Grade 12, Home-schooled, Irvington, NJ, adult sponsor Tracye Johnson
Layla Kousari, Grade 12, Parkway North High School, St. Louis, Missouri, adult sponsor LuAnn Fallahi
Madeline Kujabi, Grade 10, Bishop Grimes Junior/Senior High School, Syracuse, NY, adult sponsor Marni Nolan
Giana Moreno, Grade 11, Trinity High School, River Forest, Illinois, adult sponsor Margaret McNair
Brandon Oppong-Antwi, Grade 12, Eastern York High School, Wrightsville, PA, adult sponsor Natali Monaghan
Danielle Sanders, Grade 11, Pelham High School, Pelham, Alabama, adult sponsor Connie Hayes Nolen
Maxwell Turk, Grade 10, Northview High School, Johns Creek, Georgia, adult sponsor Camillie Janess
The ceremony kicked off with a spectacular red carpet welcome for the students, who were accompanied by their family members and their adult sponsors who guided them throughout the contest.
As the students entered the Museum, former Pennsylvania Senator Harris Wofford rang the NLM Liberty Bell to start the ceremony. Senator Wofford was an original Selma marcher and adviser to Martin Luther King, Jr.
NLM CEO Gwen Borowsky then welcomed the Girard College Cavalier Band & Choir (directed by former Teacher as Hero winner, Paul Eaton). The students set an inspirational tone for the day with their moving rendition of “Glory.” Next, guests watched special remarks from SELMA actor David Oyelowo and director AvaDuVernay.
The ceremony was hosted by KYW news reporter Cherri Gregg, who welcomed Senator Wofford to speak about his experience in Selma, as well as his work with Dr. King. Senator Wofford went on to tell the students what an inspiration they are: “Mr. Armas, Mr. Lehmann, and Miss White-Thorpe, you have used your voices to speak about individual freedom and self-determination in a way that would have made Dr. King proud.”