Secretary Williams to senior class: “Thank you for striving and thriving”

Secretary Wayne Williams with the four students who led their school’s effort in voter registration, left to right: Brisa Aguilar-Velazquez, Samantha Mejia, Secretary Williams, Sandra Gonzalez-Terrones, and Lesli Guzman-Realzola. (SOS photo)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams this week presented a voter registration award to seniors at STRIVE Prep – Excel High School, telling them it’s important for them to be involved because “you’ve got more at stake than anybody else.”

Secretary Williams recognized four students, Brisa Aguilar-Velazquez, Samantha Mejia, Sandra Gonzalez-Terrones and Lesli Guzman-Realzola, who pioneered the effort in getting their peers registered to vote as part of their senior seminar project.

They managed to get 95 percent of the senior class registered, which qualified the entire class to receive the Eliza Pickrell Routt award. It is given to high schools where more than 85 percent of eligible seniors register to vote.

The Secretary of State’s office partners with Inspire Colorado, a nonprofit organization that helps young people register to vote. Inspire worked with Exel’s director of college access, Caty Husbands, to register eligible students to vote.

Excel Principal Ben Lewis reminded his students of the importance of voting.

The 2018 class of STRIVE Prep – Excel pose with Secretary of State Wayne Williams, center and Principal Ben Lewis, far left. (SOS photo)

“I’m so proud of you seniors for making this happen. Civic engagement is extremely important,” he said.

“And as you also know, there are a lot of problems in our government today. One of the ways we can solve those things is by exercising our voice and voting is one of the ways you can do that.”

Secretary Wayne Williams tells the seniors at Excel why it is so important to be involved. (SOS photo)

Excel Prep was founded five years ago and shares a campus and extracurricular activities with North High School.

There are 11 STRIVE campuses around Denver and three of those campuses are high schools, including Excel. STRIVE Prep was founded 11 years ago under the belief that students from all backgrounds deserve a college preparatory education regardless of race, economic circumstance or previous academic achievement, according to its websiteOf the 321 students, 98 percent are bilingual in English and Spanish and 91 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunches.

Sec. Williams was presented with a T-shirt and a welcome message. (SOS photo)

The hallways of the high school were decorated with banners from nearly every university and, rightfully so — 92 percent of the senior class that was honored with the Eliza Pickrell Routt award has been accepted into four-year colleges.

“Thank you for striving and thriving now that you’ve got this award,” Secretary Williams told the students.

“If all you do is get this award, it didn’t do any good. For those of you who have registered to vote, you have to participate in the process. This is your opportunity to play a role.”