Each year, The Malibu Times recognizes local students for their dedication to their schools and the local community. The recipients are chosen by teachers, administrators and sometimes peers at their respective schools. They are offered to graduating seniors, fifth graders and, when appropriate, eighth graders.
The Malibu Times’ Citizenship Awards were established in 1987 to acknowledge students who show commitment to the community and demonstrate a concern for the rights and needs of others.
It is important to note that these students and their peers have overcome a great deal of adversity in the last few years, most notably distance learning and other stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the devastating 2018 Woolsey Fire, which took most students away from classrooms for weeks. The Malibu Times applauds all local students who overcame these challenges, especially the award winners named below.
Brianna Landin—Malibu Elementary
Malibu Elementary Student Council member Brianna Landin didn’t let being the new kid “stop her from jumping in and becoming involved,” according to her nomination. Landin immediately signed up for student council and worked hard to ensure it continued, as well as making sure no other students missed meetings, even in the face of difficulties. The fifth grader also “helps out wherever she can around school, helping in the library, doing our morning announcements over the PA system and making sure all are included wherever she goes.” All three Malibu Elementary nominees were commended for their positive attitudes and good citizenship.
Gianna Camarella—Malibu Elementary
Gianna Camarella is a leader—she “steps up to be at the forefront of any helping project or event,” according to her nomination. Camarella’s work includes being a member of Malibu Elementary Student Council. She was also master of ceremonies at the fifth-grade holiday and spring talent shows. “She works hard and goes the extra mile when asked to do anything to help the school and those around her,” all with a positive attitude.
Violet Keenan—Malibu Elementary
It’s not every day one hears a fifth grader described as “wise and grounded,” but Malibu Elementary’s Violet Keenan is that and more—”a pleasure to be around and an asset to the community,” according to her nomination. Keenan, also a member of the student council, “has a strong moral character and an innate sense of right and wrong.” She is known to take on a leadership role whenever presented and makes it a priority to include everyone in every activity.
Zara Comfort—Webster Elementary
Zara Comfort quietly shines. According to the Webster Elementary School fifth grader’s nomination, Comfort exhibits “strength, resiliency, positivity, perseverance, hard work ... compassion and kindness.” She is dedicated to learning as well as to her school community, where she has spent time being actively involved in student council and math club. Empathetic and helpful, Comfort is “the kind of student who seeks to make Webster a better place with her positivity and fresh ideas,” focusing on how to “uplift others” and shine a light in what has been a dark and challenging time for many.
Lily Folkerts—Webster Elementary
Lily Folkerts is known at Webster Elementary for her ability to find the silver lining in everything, according to her nomination. Folkerts took distance learning in stride—“she recognized the joy in more family time, the benefit of learning new technology, the change of pace that school at home brought and she enthusiastically shared that if it weren’t for the pandemic, she might not yet be dancing ballet ‘en pointe.’” In other words, Folkerts tackled the past year’s challenges the way she tackles life: “looking for the positives in a tough situation.” In addition, the fifth-grader is reliable and a diligent student who is eager to learn.
Wallis Buckner—The Sycamore School
The planet is a better place for having Wallis Buckner on it—the Sycamore School fifth-grader is dedicated to “solving the problems of ocean pollution and destruction of ocean habitat,” according to her nomination. Buckner “was an example of a citizen that identified a problem that she deeply cared about and took action to help in some way,” raising $600 for nonprofit organizations Project Aware and The Ocean Cleanup through a bake sale she organized herself.
Christine Chambers—Our Lady of Malibu School
Christine Chambers-Simpson is always looking for ways to help out at Our Lady of Malibu School. Her nomination states she “continually seeks out opportunities where she can be of service”—everything from assisting peers with homework and projects to ensuring the bake sale fundraiser is a success. Chambers-Simpson actively participates in her community, exhibiting responsibility and “follow through” beyond her years; the eighth-grade student is thoughtful, with a strong desire to understand and participate in her community.
Chloe Loquet—Malibu Middle School
“Helpful, kind and of service to others,” Chloe Loquet is this year’s citizenship award winner from Malibu Middle School. The eighth-grader is a naturally talented writer; she was the first middle school student to be featured in Malibu High School newspaper The Current and is also an accomplished poet and public speaker. Loquet also sits on the Malibu Middle School Site Council, made up of “teachers, parents, students and staff who work on long-range school planning and issues important to the MMS community.” She is also active in the City of Malibu’s Harry Barovsky Memorial Youth Commission, where Loquet and her peers organized a holiday toy drive and letter writing campaigns to local seniors. “We are lucky to have her commitment, passion and drive in the Malibu community,” her nomination stated.
Colin Murphy—Malibu High School
Colin Murphy’s strong moral compass is just one of the reasons he was nominated for this year’s citizenship award. The Malibu High School senior was seen “countless times” by his nominator comforting his fellow students in hard times and defending others who were being verbally attacked—“even when he barely knew them.” To Murphy, social justice isn’t a trend: the 12th grader wrote about police violence toward Black Amerians in MHS paper The Current a year before the murder of George Floyd. He has also written about issues surrounding health care injustice. He is a high-achieving student who treats everyone in the school with respect and is not afraid to apologize after wrongdoings. “He is the definition of a good guy,” according to his nomination.
Honorary Mention: Zach Samuel—Viewpoint School
Viewpoint School nominated a junior for this year’s citizenship award, Zachary Samuel. Samuel is “passionate about giving back to his community both on and off campus,” according to his nomination. He is a member of the school’s community service honors society and established a new program at the school during the pandemic, Viewpoint Buddies, which matches lower and upper school students for “all sorts of fun and engaging activities.”