Area teens to be honored at MLK Day ceremony

Courtesy of U.S. Marines

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd of about 200,000 from the steps of the Lin
Courtesy of U.S. Marines The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd of about 200,000 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech during the Aug. 28, 1963, civil rights march in Washington.

Eight area teenagers — all female — will be honored Monday at the annual Service Above Self awards ceremony. Hosted by the Rotary Club of Cedar Rapids, the awards honor students’ contributions to their schools and community.

One senior from each Cedar Rapids area high school has been selected as best exemplifying the Rotary value of Service Above Self within their respective school, neighborhood, faith, family and work community. Each student will have a chance to speak to the hundreds of community and business leaders expected to attend regarding their accomplishments and drive to serve.

At the end of the presentation, the Rotary Club of Cedar Rapids will present a commemorative plaque to each student honoree. A $100 donation also will be made to a local nonprofit in the honoree’s name.

The cost of the luncheon held noon to 1 p.m. Monday at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 350 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids, is $12 for the salad bar or $17 for the lunch buffet. To register, email

Here are this year’s awardees:

Meriyah Jenkins, Prairie High School

Being a model student that has a service-first mentality has become an example of what Meriyah shows on a consistent basis. She leads with a compassionate heart through many activities such as Beyond the Bell. It is her faith in the greater good of people despite their circumstances that keeps her committed for the betterment of all people. Maintaining a community-first mind-set has placed Meriyah in positions of influence for all students at Prairie High School. Most recently, Meriyah helped organize and serve food to children of incarcerated parents through Children of Promise. This act of leadership and kindness is a prime example of her ability to serve an underrepresented population of those who are in need.

Madeline Abu Nameh, Xavier High School

A member of the Xavier Ambassadors, which conducts outreach to area elementary and middle schools, Madeline has a strong philanthropic drive. At Xavier, she organized a successful shoe and sock drive, which provided 600 pairs of shoes to developing countries and 1,000 pairs of socks to the city’s homeless. She has volunteered at Mercy Medical Center, Garfield Elementary and Meals on Wheels and participated in a summer internship at the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission. She has been recognized academically, making honor roll every year at Xavier as well as the National Honor Society, and serves as president of the Classics Club. Maddie has been a varsity tennis player all four of her years at Xavier and received an honorable mention in 2018 for the Mississippi Valley Conference All-Division Tennis Team. She works at St. Pius Daycare and has a dream to start a nonprofit organization.

Katiana Arnold, Washington High School

Katiana is an active musician, leader and volunteer. She has participated in marching band all four years, including one year as saxophone section leader, and she has played with the school’s jazz band, show choir band and step team. She serves as vice president of the 2018-19 senior class and served a year in the Student Senate. Katiana is also a captain of the Washington cheerleading squad and was elected homecoming queen in 2018. She volunteers with Mentors of Violence Prevention and Sisters to Sisters and has a part-time job at Hy-Vee.

Laxmi Basnet, Kennedy High School

Laxmi has made the honor roll many times throughout her years at Kennedy and takes her studies very seriously. She has challenged herself academically, enrolling in college courses through Kirkwood Community College. She sees education as the key to opening doors to her future. She believes in serving her community and making it a better place for everyone and hopes to become a police officer. She has been involved with Kennedy soccer, received recognition for personal growth on the Iowa Assessments and is very involved in activities with the Nepali community in Cedar Rapids. She loves to share her culture with others and learn about new cultures.

Serena Brizard, Linn-Mar High School

She has received multiple academic and athletic awards during her time as a student. She received an academic award her freshman year, was named to the Mississippi Valley Conference All-Academic Team in 2018 and is a National Council on Youth Leadership Scholarship winner. Serena is a highly accomplished swimmer, qualifying for state in 2015 through 2018 and received the varsity award four years in a row. She has received multiple honorable mentions over the last three years in multiple individual events and was named to the Mississippi Valley First and Second Team All-Conference for the 50 and 100 freestyle and 200 medley in 2018. She was also named the Iowa Athlete Representative for the United States Aquatic Sports National Convention that year.

Mary Estes, Metro High School

Mary has participated in the Academy for Scholastic and Personal Success, a summer program designed to instill pride and understanding of African-American culture as a tool to encourage academic achievement, and she volunteers at First Lutheran Church in Cedar Rapids. Mary is also an active member of the school’s track and basketball teams.

Rosata Nicinginge, Jefferson High School

Rosata is a kind-spirited young woman who has taken an interest in helping others. She has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, donated toys and supplies to Toys for Tots and other local agencies and is a volunteer at her church, where she serves meals to individuals and families in need. At school, Rosata is quiet but brings positive energy to any group she’s a part of, especially when she is playing soccer for the J-Hawks. Her favorite subjects are government and psychology. These two classes have empowered her to become more involved in social justice initiatives. Rosata hopes she can contribute to eliminating hate and aspires to apply to college in Finland to study graphic design and criminology.

Madison Redmond, Marion High School

Madison has been an active and devoted volunteer, receiving silver cord honors with a total of 280 volunteer hours. She has been involved with service retreats to Chicago, Kansas City and Minneapolis and was a leader and fundraiser with the One Day in May Service Project. Madison is a group leader for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and was awarded for advocating against drug and alcohol abuse as part of Take Charge. Madison is also a dedicated student, making the honor roll the last four years and receiving the school’s Principal Award. She is a member of the track team, volunteers as a classroom assistant with special needs students and completed the Kirkwood Education Career Academy, which allows students to earn college credits while participating in hands-on learning opportunities through Kirkwood courses.

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