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State Honoree

Katie Bolenbaugh


organized a four-mile, seven-hour march against racism and violence in her community after learning that minority students at her school were being threatened and harassed. “I wanted to be able to show in a physical and visible way my strong beliefs that people should be accepted for who and what they are,” she said. She decided on a community march that would express students’ unwillingness to tolerate racism and violence in their neighborhood. Katie and a group of volunteers from the school’s Caring Kids Program spent many hours meeting with Youth Service Bureau workers, arranging police escorts, creating signs, planning presentations and advertising, and writing letters to newspapers and the city council to invite them to observe the march and hear their anti-racism and violence presentations. Twenty-five volunteers participated in the march, walking first to a Forest Lake City Council meeting, where they gave presentations and passed out purple ribbons to council members, and then to Forest Lake’s two junior high schools, where they delivered similar presentations. “I believe that racial harassment and violence can be diminished by students being courageous enough to stand up for tolerance and acceptance,” Katie said. “Even if a problem seems really big, you do have the power to do something about it. Kids can make the world a better place.”