Aiken Rallies Against Gun Violence

  The Aiken Community Stands Strong Against Violence 

        Students at Aiken College and Career High School, tucked away in the heart of College Hill have become all too familiar with the devastation of several tragic deaths spurred by gun violence throughout the past five years. Numerous teenagers have come to know the heartbreak of losing their family members and friends. Sandi Horine, Aiken Guidance Counselor, and her Youth Leadership Seminar Student Leadership Group were inspired by the Service Challenge Project and were eager to take a stand against gun violence in their immediate community. Sandi was impressed with their passion and dedication to the project and the enthusiasm they showed in rallying together. The group was committed to making an impact in preventing tragedy from striking any more of their peers. Three years ago, Aiken lost five students to gun violence and the year before, several students and alumni. Just one week after plans for this project were finalized, Aiken lost a 14-year-old to gun fire. Several weeks later, another 14-year-old, who was not an Aiken student but a close friend to many, was tragically killed. The week before the event, an Aiken senior was shot but survived with the support of friends and family. Needless to say, this issue is one that hits too close to home for many students.

Aiken’s service challenge project, featured on the FOX 19 evening news, kicked off a week-long event on Tuesday, February 11th with two, all-school assemblies reaching 700 students targeting gang awareness and addressing preventative action. Sandi’s group hosted a follow-up during lunch to provide students the opportunity to learn about additional resources and to confide in peers about their personal experience. In addition, Wednesday’s lunch period included a discussion that focused on methods to cope with loss by encouraging students to open up through sharing how gun violence has affected them.

Jamie Bryant, who works with the Cincinnati Human Relations Committee at City Hall partnered with Aiken and presented at Wednesday’s rally. In addition, representatives from “Mothers of Murdered Victims” attended the event to share their personal stories of loss and mourning.  Ms. Horine was struck by the impressive turnout and courage of those who were so willing to open up by facing a very difficult and personal issue that is often considered “the elephant in the room” in hopes of making a difference. Students were eager to equip themselves through education on this very prevalent issue so they too are prepared to go out into their neighborhoods, and make an impact both as individuals and as a school. Although Aiken emphasizes a strong focus on academics and excelling students to the next level, Ms. Horine says the school holds the safety and comfort of the students in the highest regard.

To bring the week to a close, the school opened its doors to students, families and community members for the “Night-at-the-Mic Rally”. The attendees – including two local Cincinnati Police Officers, the “Mothers of Murdered Victims” members and countless students – shared their personal testimonies of gun violence and stories of loved ones who have lost their lives. The thought-provoking discussion and personal accounts were incredibly moving and shed a serious light on an issue that continues to pose a threat to many Cincinnati communities. Following the rally, attendees scribed the names of friends and family members who have passed away on hundreds of purple and white balloons and released them into the sky. The sun was shining and the group fell silent as the sea of purple and white floated up over the hill and soared through College Hill. It was a beautiful symbol of hope and honorable tribute to those who have lost their lives to gun violence.









Great Job, Aiken!


“Where Are They Now Wednesday!”

A Look Back at Last Year’s Straight “A” Scholarship Winners!

It’s that day of the week again! This “Where Are They Now Wednesday” will take a look at 2013’s Straight “A” Scholarship winners Shannon Chambers and Rachel Hall. With only two and a half weeks left to nominate students for the Straight “A” Scholarship, some may be thinking “Is this really worth it?” Well, today I am writing to tell you “YES IT IS!”

The 2013 Straight "A" Scholarship winners: Shannon Chambers, from Aiken High School (left), and Rachel Hall, from Saint Ursula Academy (right).

The 2013 Straight “A” Scholarship winners: Shannon Chambers, from Aiken High School (left), and Rachel Hall, from Saint Ursula Academy (right).


For the past eleven years, the Anthony Muñoz Foundation has recognized deserving students for their academic excellence, athletic achievement, winning attitude, active role in the community, and overcoming adversity. This scholarship not only helps these students financially, but helps them to achieve their dreams and continue their education.


Shannon Chambers was last year’s male Straight “A” recipient. Hailing from Aiken High School, he is now a freshman Industrial Operations major at the University of Cincinnati. Shannon is not only involved academically, but also a member of many organizations on campus. Some of these clubs include NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, UBSA, United Black Student Association, Transitions, and The Sales Leadership Club. His involvements in these clubs have given Shannon invaluable insight into professional relationships, networking, and effective communication. Shannon has also maintained his friendship with Brandon Prayer, last year’s Scholarship Fund winner, who you will hear more about next “Where Are They Now Wednesday!”

Shannon wanted to give high school students some very wise advice. From the man himself he says, “When I graduated from high school, I did so with a 4.0 GPA. After my first semester here, that dramatically dropped to a 2.5. I want those who will pursue post-secondary to know that it is not the 13th grade, and it requires rigorous effort, time management, and above all, discipline.”

Rachel Hall was last year’s female Straight “A” recipient. Hailing from Saint Ursula High School, she is now a freshman at the Ohio State University, where she is a Hospitality Management major. Rachel has gotten involved with an indoor soccer league and is planning to apply for the Ohio Union Activity Board. “Becoming the Anthony Muñoz Straight A Student of the year has been a tremendous blessing for me and my family,” Rachel says. “I’m so grateful for the opportunities it has given me.”

So there you have if folks, from the winners themselves! Both of these Straight “A” Students are at the Universities of their dreams involving and challenging themselves as they continue forward with their education. Both Shannon and Rachel expressed their gratitude for not only the scholarship itself, but where that scholarship was able to take them. So wherever you are or wherever you want to be, think about how the Foundation’s Straight “A” Scholarship can help get you there!

Nominations for the Straight “A” Scholarship will continue until Friday, February 21st. So if you know any deserving students, make sure to nominate them today!

Click here to nominate a student!


Victoria Sabato

Programs Intern


A Look at How Far We’ve Come!

Over One Million Dollars… That’s Pretty Far!

Every year the Foundation searches the great Tri-State high schools for deserving students to receive our two scholarships. Both the Straight “A” Scholarship and Scholarship Fund began in 2003, and still continue to reward students today.

The Straight “A” Program rewards any high school students who display the six straight “A”s the Foundation looks for. These include pursuing Academic excellence, Athletic achievement, an Active role in the community, possessing a strong Ambition, having a winning Attitude, and being able to overcome Adversity.

The 2013 Straight "A" Scholarship winners: Shannon Chambers, from Aiken High School (left), and Rachel Hall, from Saint Ursula Academy (right).

The 2013 Straight “A” Scholarship winners: Shannon Chambers, from Aiken High School (left), and Rachel Hall, from Saint Ursula Academy (right).

Students must be nominated by a teacher, principal, counselor, coach, parent, or anyone who sees all of these wonderful qualities in that student! Only seniors are eligible for scholarship money, but every single nominee is recognized.

Just to give you an idea about how impactful this scholarship has been, over the past 11 years, the Straight “A” Scholarship has rewarded 198 students with a total of $462,000!

The AMF Scholarship Fund is for students who overcome adversity, excel academically, and fulfill a leadership role, with a large emphasis on the financial need. Unlike Straight “A,” Scholarship Fund is an application that students fill out themselves. So students, feel free to brag about how great you are! They must print it off and mail it into the office. This scholarship has eligibility restrictions such as financial need and attending a local Tri-State college or university. A full list of requirements can be found here.

Over the past 11 years, the Scholarship Fund has rewarded 35 students with an astounding total of $700,000!

Brandon Prayer’s acceptance speech gave us all a good laugh. To see the other 5 winners’ speeches, click here!

In case you don’t want to do the math… that is a grand total of $1,162,000! The Foundation has given over one million dollars to Tri-State students since it began, and why? Because these students deserve it, and you do too! This money is invaluable and can help Tri-State students achieve their dreams, so make sure you apply or nominate today!

Nominate a student for the Straight “A” Scholarship here! The deadline is February 21st!

Find out restrictions and apply for Scholarship Fund here! The deadline is April 30th!

Victoria Sabato

Straight “A” Intern