Copyright 2015 Natasha Esguerra Photography | www.natashaesguerra.comRed Bank Regional senior Morgan Brunson (holding certificate) was among the New Jersey high school students honored by Princeton University, at the 2015 Princeton Prize in Race Relations ceremony on April 15. (Photo by Natasha Esguerra)

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Each year, Princeton University recognizes New Jersey high school students whose efforts have had a significant, positive effect on race relations in their schools or communities — and at the 2015 Princeton Prize In Race Relations Ceremony and Reception, a Red Bank Regional High School senior was among the Central/Southern NJ Region students so honored.

At the April 15 ceremony on the porch of Princeton’s John Maclean House, Red Bank resident Morgan Brunson earned a certificate of achievement for organizing, hosting and performing in a black history month dance assembly. In addition to her commendation, Morgan was also asked to attend the national Princeton Prize Symposium in Race Relations, held at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Sociology on April 25th.

A long-time dance student of the Asbury Park Dance Academy, and a woodwind major in RBR’s Visual and Performing Arts Academy, Morgan organized a special celebration for Black History Month at RBR, hosting the APDC in a dance, poetry and musical program in which she and her sister, RBR Freshman Dance Major Tyler Brunson, also performed. The event was a spectacular visual representation of the black experience in America from its slave roots including numbers on the auction block, African American folklore, and African American struggles in ballet and current society to modern day issues.

The program sought to promote racial understanding by providing a visual experience of African American history through lyrical dance, combined with storytelling. The classical ballet performance exposed the diverse student body to the talent of African Americans in this underrepresented art form. Morgan believes the teaching staff also benefited by being exposed to minority classical ballet dancers, and by hearing little known stories of black history.

As Morgan explains it, “The idea to bring the youth ensemble’s presentation to my school came from watching my high school’s Black History Month assemblies as an underclassman. Although a lot of effort is put into the school’s Black History Month assemblies, it taught the same simplified story of African American history that everyone has known since elementary school, and does not go in depth about what really occurred.”

“Morgan is a talented student and a leader who advocates for social justice and diversity,” states RBR’s anti-bullying officer Cheryl Washington, who sponsored the senior for the award. “She has the ability to influence students and staff with her creativity.”

A total of 30 applicants from the Central/Southern Region competed for this year’s Princeton Prize. In addition to Morgan Brunson, five other award recipients were honored at the April 15 event, including Tatianna Sims of Princeton High School; Mara Peoples of The Hun School of Princeton; Jessica Mekeel and Sarika Bhattacharjee of Montgomery High School, and Adam Mohsen-Breen of The Friends School, Moorestown.

Go here for more information about the Princeton Prize in Race Relations, or email pprize@Princeton.edu.