The Long Beach High School African-American Club hosted an Evening of Excellence on Feb. 15 to honor local individuals and celebrate Black History Month.
The first annual event recognized the achievements of local leaders and their contributions to the community, including City Councilwoman Anissa Moore, Martin Luther King Center Board Chairman James Hodge, Lido Elementary School Principal Brenda Young, former African American Club President Diamond Lambert and stylist Chris Banks.
“[The students] were inspired by them and felt like they could look up to them and how much they give back their time, skills and talents to other people,” LBHS teacher and club advisor Janna James said. “The important thing is that the students of the club chose the people who were honored, not me.”
The club — which James said has been around for at least 15 years — consists of about 20 students. Students said state Sen. Todd Kaminsky’s office provided each honoree with a citation for their service. James and LBHS Principal Jeffrey Myers served as masters of ceremony.
“I think it inspires people to just lose themselves in the service of others, and even though you might not be recognized for it, people are watching, and they see what you do, and it does matter,” James said.
Students also said many local businesses provided raffle prizes and food for the event, including Bobby Q’s, Bella Latina Cakes and Nassau County Girl Scout Troop 2040.
“This was a great event that highlighted the achievements of some of our local people,” Myers said in a statement. “I am very proud of all the work that the students and Ms. James did to put this event together. I am looking forward to what next year brings.”
“This is truly a blessing,” Banks said at the awards ceremony. “Being in this school right now is reminding me of where I came, and where I am now. Being one of those students who didn’t have a vision, who didn’t have a purpose, had my hoodie on, skipping class, doing what I wanted to do, and to now be back here receiving an award is just confirmation that God is good. You can’t allow anyone to tell you what you’re going to do. You have to stay connected to what it is you want to do.”