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New Rochelle Student, Educator Bring 'Big Ideas' Back To School District

New Rochelle High School junior Ana Acevedo was one of 30 Bezos Scholars to participate in the program. Photo Credit: Contributed
New Rochelle student Ava Acevedo and teacher Camille Edwards-Thomas were two of 30 Bezos Scholars. Photo Credit: Bezos Scholars
Learn about the Bezos Scholars Program from Scholars themselves!
Learn about the Bezos Scholars Program from Scholars themselves! Video Credit: BezosScholars

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. - A New Rochelle student-teacher combination represented the school district in Aspen recently as they joined some of the best and brightest from throughout the country at a renowned “ideas festival.”

Earlier this year, student Ana Acevedo and New Rochelle High School House II Principal Camille Edwards-Thomas were chosen among 24 of the nation’s top high school juniors and educators to join six members of the African Leadership Academy in South Africa at the annual Ideas Festival hosted through the Bezos Scholars Program.

Each year, a total of 30 Bezos Scholars are selected to participate in the program, where they attend panels, participate in leadership training programs and enjoy meet-and-greets with famed Festival speakers. Previous attendees include Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Katie Couric and violinist Joshua Bell.

At the leadership development program, Acevedo and Edwards-Thomas were taught about the skills needed to organize their own community change programs - referred to as Local Ideas Festivals (LIFs) - that will benefit the entire community.

“The week I spent in Aspen provided me with new views on difficult topics, a wonderful network of inspiring individuals and ‘big ideas,’” Acevedo said. “I feel extremely fortunate to have been a part of it all.”

Before being accepted into the program, Acevedo was required to demonstrate a depth of ideas about creating positive changes in the community, showcasing leadership potential and an ambition to contribute solutions for pressing social challenges in the world.

According to Bezos Family Foudnation Youth Leadership Manager Nicole Hanson, “scholars choose the theme of their LIF based on the intersection of their passion and a true community need.” Since its founding more than a decade ago, upwards of 40,000 people have attended LIFs in the country.

“The passion and creativity of these scholars is matched only by their dedication to making the world a better place,” she added. “We can’t wait to see how the conversations they share inspire them to explore opportunities to make positive change in their own communities.”

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