Seventh-Grader Receives Friedlander Upstander Award

Julia DeVita, a seventh-grader at Oldfield Middle School, was recognized with the Friedlander Upstander Award for Suffolk County through the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Society of Nassau County.

According to the HMTC’s website, “an upstander is a person who stands up for others, and does not stand by allowing bigotry, hatred or intolerance to happen without interjection.” DeVita was nominated for the award by teacher Jessica Lowenhar, who notes that DeVita is an upstander without question.

“Julia has gone out of her way to use her popularity, social influence and outgoing personality to make Oldfield Middle School a place where every student is afforded the opportunity to start their day knowing that they will be met with tolerance,” said Lowenhar. “Students end their day feeling like no matter what their differences or challenges may be, they will always be able to find a friend.”

DeVita, an active member of Oldfield Middle School’s Pals for PALS club and Junior Welfare League, said, “Ever since I was little, I lived by Mahatma Gandhi’s quote, ‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world.’ Everyone has a purpose on this earth, and I believe that my purpose is not only being the change in my life, but in the lives of others. In order to do this, I strive to make a difference in society by promoting kindness through my actions.”

DeVita was honored for her award at HMTC’s annual Tolerance Benefit in mid-May, during which she was presented with a special plaque and a $2,500 scholarship.