Nell Pugliese Awarded for Human Rights Work


Senior Nell Pugliese receives the Lewis Atwater Youth Award pictured here with her father, Anthony Pugliese, and presenter Debra Martinez.

By Ally Waltemyer, Commentary Editor

Senior president of Alliance Nell Pugliese received the Lewis Atwater Youth Award for her hard work with the club Alliance on Jan 10.

The York City Human Relations Commission, an organization dedicated to promoting diversity and assuring equal opportunities to all, hosts a luncheon and awards the Lewis Atwater Youth Award to students who want to create “a sense of equality, compassion, and empathy within their community.”

This year, the award was given to Pugliese.

The Alliance club is dedicated to providing a safe space for LGBTQ+ students and spreading awareness about LGBTQ+ issues through projects such as their “Everybody Deserves Love” and “Gay is not a Bad Word” campaign.

School counselor Matthew Shervington remembers Pugliese’s dedication to the cause.

“She’s one of several students…who approached me last year about creating the Alliance club,” said Shervington. “But I wanna say, she was one of the two who stuck with it the most, that made sure when I explained that certain steps had to be followed, they made sure those steps were followed. When students were upset that progress wasn’t being made, they worked with students to…calm them down to make sure that they understood it was going to be a process to ultimately get the goal they desired.”

Pugliese believes her dedication to Alliance helped her to be nominated for the award.

“I’m really, really happy that we got to [start Alliance],” said Pugliese. “I’m really proud that I got to do that with my friends and with everyone I know. I’m a pretty involved student, I do a lot of things in the school, and not all of them directly impact everybody in this school, but I get to know a lot of people and I feel like that definitely helped to make a bigger impact.”

According to Pugliese, clubs like Alliance are important in making students feel like they belong.

“Everybody needs a place to feel like they belong, to feel like they are in the majority here,” said Pugliese. “There’s sports teams where everybody plays sports, so they all get along for that reason. So why not have a club where we can talk about our shared experiences.”

Shervington believes making students feel safe should be a priority, and Alliance and students like Pugliese are helping to make that happen.

“I feel like every student should be able to come to school and feel safe,” said Shervington. “…regardless of your gender, your race, your ethnicity, your sexual orientation…it does not matter. People are people and everyone deserves the right to feel safe, to feel heard, and to feel cared about in school. It is my job as an educator as well as anybody else’s job in this building as an educator to let students know that unfortunately we can’t always control what happens outside of school, but when you walk between those doors from 7:30 to 3:30 that you are here to be protected, you are here to be taken care of, and you are here to feel safe.”