U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin poses with the 40 high school juniors who were given Ambassador for Justice Awards on April 23. (Courtesy photo)

CHARLESTON -- On April 23, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin honored 40 high school juniors with the U.S. Attorney's Ambassador for Justice Award during a ceremony at the Robert C. Byrd U.S. Federal Courthouse.

The U.S. Attorney's Ambassador for Justice Award program is an initiative led by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of West Virginia which recognizes high school juniors who have shown outstanding leadership skills and a commitment to social justice.

"I was very pleased to honor 40 high school juniors from throughout the Southern District as United States Attorney Ambassadors for Justice," Goodwin said. "These are students with a good ethical compass who would be willing to step forward and do something if one of their peers was making a self-destructive decision or bullying someone else.

"I am confident that they will take an active role in building and sustaining a dialogue. Their ideas and perspectives are invaluable toward rooting out current social issues and threats that jeopardize student achievement."

Goodwin said his office is concerned with solving issues affecting young people throughout the southern portion of West Virginia's 23-county federal judicial district.

"This isn't just an award and a title. My hope is that this will be the start of a mission for me, my office, our schools, our communities and for each of these Ambassadors for Justice so that together we can exert positive influences in our schools and communities," said Goodwin.

The U.S. Attorney's Ambassador for Justice program was created by U.S. Attorney Goodwin as a result of numerous reports of school bullying and social media threats involving young people. The award was also prompted by a February school shooting which claimed the lives of three young people and wounded two others at Chardon High School in Chardon, Ohio, as well as other events that have taken place in the U.S. Attorney's district.

Goodwin also said that several studies have shown that more than 60 percent of bullies in school typically end up serving time in jail by the time they reach their 20s.

Nominations for the U.S. Attorney's Ambassador for Justice Award were made by the principal and administrative leaders of the student's respective school. Goodwin said that outstanding character, devotion to citizenship, and a commitment to serving others were also fundamentals for the award nomination.

Monday's U.S. Attorney's Ambassador for Justice Award presentation coincided with the 12th annual commemoration ceremony in recognition of National Crime Victims' Rights Week, led by Operation Reach Out. Operation Reach Out consists of various federal, state and local agencies that have committed to raising awareness concerning crime victims' rights, as well as educating the public regarding crime prevention and safety.

The U.S. Attorney's Ambassador for Justice Award recipients are as follows (by student name/high school/county):

* Matthew Dolan -Scott High School (Boone Co.)

* MacKenzie Smith –Sherman High School (Boone Co.)

* Campbell Neighborgall – Huntington High School (Cabell Co.)

* Alyssa Morris – Cabell Midland High School (Cabell Co.)

* Catlin Brouillard -Valley High School (Fayette Co.)

* Isaac Gutshall - Greenbrier West High School (Greenbrier Co.)

* Ashley Donohew -Ripley High School (Jackson Co.)

* Andrew Ely -Ravenswood High School (Jackson Co.)

* Robert Brown -Sissonville High School (Kanawha Co.)

* Lindsey Hanks – Saint Albans High School (Kanawha Co.)

* Adam Richardson –South Charleston High School (Kanawha Co.)

* Anna Rubenstein –Nitro High School (Kanawha Co.)

* Sarah Seabolt –Herbert Hoover High School (Kanawha Co.)

* Joseph Wright - Capital High School (Kanawha Co.)

* Abigail Lusk – Man High School (Logan Co.)

* Nicholas McDonald – Logan Sr. High School (Logan Co.)

* Erik Allbright -Point Pleasant Jr./Sr. High School (Mason Co.)

* Zachary Jenkins – Hannan High School (Mason Co.)

* Caroline Thompson –Wahama High School (Mason Co.)

* Shamecca Perkins – Mount View High School (McDowell Co.)

* Zachary Shelton –River View High School (McDowell Co.)

* Brandon Hicks – Princeton Sr. High School (Mercer Co.)

* Douglas Miller – Bluefield High School (Mercer Co.)

* Katelyn Poff –Montcalm High School (Mercer Co.)

* Jacob Ramthun –Pikeview High School (Mercer Co.)

* Shaunda Murphy – Tug Valley High School (Mingo Co.)

* Gregory Simpkins –Mingo Central Comprehensive High School (Mingo Co.)

* Emily McKinney –James Monroe High School (Monroe Co.)

* Molly Ballard -Poca High School (Putnam Co.)

* Christa Brown -Buffalo High School (Putnam Co.)

* Emily Cole -Winfield High School (Putnam Co.)

* Callie McClanahan – Hurricane High School (Putnam Co.)

* Alexis DeMoss -Shady Spring High School (Raleigh Co.)

* Allison Hatcher – Liberty High School (Raleigh Co.)

* Christopher Nelson – Independence High School (Raleigh Co.)

* James Weiss – Summers County High School (Summers Co.)

* Austin Brewer -Tolsia High School (Wayne Co.)

* Dustin Hatfield –Wayne High School (Wayne Co.)

* Emily Rhodes –Spring Valley High School (Wayne Co.)

* Samantha Shimer –Wirt County High School (Wirt Co.)

* Logan Cox - Parkersburg South High School (Wood Co.)

* Jared Haught – Parkersburg High School (Wood Co.)

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