Edgar Rivas Lizama is a special young man. The Huntington High School junior’s classmates and teachers know this quite well. But the greater Long Island community is learning just what an exceptional teenager he really is.
Mr. Rivas Lizama was recently honored as this year’s recipient of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County’s Friedlander Upstander Award, which carries with it a $2,500 stipend.
The Huntington junior was presented with the organization’s eighth annual award the group’s recent benefit at the Westbury Manor. The Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center and the Claire Friedlander Family Foundation, in conjunction with the Nassau and Suffolk County police departments sponsor the scholarship, which is presented to students “who have shown themselves to be ‘upstanders’ against intolerance in any of its forms,” according to the group’s website. “The student’s action as an ‘upstander’ could be one of intervention or prevention, great or small.”
Mr. Rivas Lizama is enrolled in Huntington High School’s Holocaust Literature course. “The essay he wrote for the competition was an inspirational account of the brave steps he took to stand up for his mother when she was ill-treated by an employer,” Huntington English teacher Kelly Quintero said. “His personal narrative reflects his great resilience, outstanding character and sheer moral fortitude. He is truly a rising star.”
It’s been clear for more than 70 years that the world must never forget the Holocaust, one of the darkest periods in human history when the persecution, enslavement and extermination of millions of Jews and others deemed “undesirable” by Nazi Germany and its allies was officially sanctioned state policy.
Huntington High School students learning today about not only the origins of the Holocaust, but how government officials, uniformed personnel and even ordinary citizens carried out the Final Solution are just as shocked and outraged as was the world when the astonishing scope of the concentration and death camps and the killing apparatus became known in the final months and weeks of World War II and the Nuremberg Trials that followed.
Vice president of Huntington’s Spanish Honor Society chapter and a member of the high school Principal’s Advisory Council, Mr. Rivas Lizama is a thoughtful, articulate and well-informed young man. He came to Huntington from El Salvador as a freshman.
The teenager has been thinking about college, but he hasn’t made any decisions. “I haven’t decide what I want to study,” Mr. Rivas Lizama said. He is considering the possibility of focusing on political science.
The Huntington junior has been following the national conversation about immigration and he hopes that by studying how laws are made, interpreted and enforced he can help make a positive change.