May 16, 2014

New education awards honor Cardinal Ritter, Father Boniface Hardin

Criterion staff report

Recognizing their valuable contributions to promoting equality in education, Cardinal Joseph E. Ritter and Benedictine Father Boniface Hardin will be remembered again as their names and their life’s works become attached to two newly-created, distinguished awards in Indianapolis.

The awards will be presented on May 16 during the first annual Education Weekend of the Central Indiana Education Alliance, an organization dedicated to raising the level of education in Indianapolis to world-class status.

The first annual Education Weekend is an initiative by the Alliance to “hold a city-wide conversation about the 1954 [U.S. Supreme Court] Brown v. Board of Education ruling and its contemporary implications.”

May 16 marks the 60th anniversary of this landmark ruling that desegregated public schools in the United States.

The announcement of the Alliance’s initial Cardinal Joseph E. Ritter Award is especially appropriate in the 60th anniversary celebration.

In 1938, then-Bishop Ritter of Indianapolis ordered an end to racial segregation in all Catholic schools in central and southern Indiana. The Cardinal Joseph E. Ritter Award will be presented to a citizen of central Indiana who is an “unsung hero” for education.

The Father Boniface Hardin Award will be presented to a present or former education administrator from Indiana. Father Boniface furthered the goal of equality in education in 1977 by helping to found Martin University in Indianapolis, a school with a mission of serving low-income, minority and adult learners.

Both awards will be presented during the Rotary Education Weekend Equity Awards ceremony at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum at 5:30 p.m. on May 16.

The awards ceremony is part of a weekend of events designed to engage the Indianapolis community about the impact of Brown v. Board of Education on education and American society.

The weekend events will start with a panel discussion on “Equity, Quality and Success in Education: Looking Back and Moving Forward. … A Faith Perspective.” The discussion, which features religious and educational leaders, will be from 10-11:30 a.m. on May 16 at the Marian University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Indianapolis.

More than 70 interactive activities representing science, technology, engineering, arts and math will be featured from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m on May 17 at The Fashion Mall at Keystone at the Crossing in Indianapolis.

The fun will continue at the Indianapolis Central Library from 2-5 p.m. on May 18 with a family activity that will feature the movie, Remember the Titans, and an opportunity to meet some members of the boys’ basketball team of Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis, a team that won the 2014 Class 4A state championship of the Indiana High School Athletic Association.

The library staff will also recommend books for youths that have a connection to the quest for racial equality in American society.

All the events represent the Central Indiana Education Alliance’s goal for the weekend:

“Our goal will be to reflect upon the important lessons of Brown v. Board of Education, inform individuals on how they can engage or re-engage with the education system, bond families around education, develop community conversations, honor those who broke both educational and religious barriers for our children, and display the power of education.” †

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