Niagara Gazette

January 15, 2013

MLK AWARDS: LaSharee Wallace driven to help those around her

by Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — EDITOR'S NOTE: The Falls school district provided the wrong photo of the award winner that appeared at the bottom of Tuesday's edition. We are reruning the story with the corrected picture.

Each year, the students at Niagara Falls High School have the opportunity to bestow one of their own with an honor fit for a King.

This year, LaSharee Wallace was their choice for the Youth Civil Rights Achievement Award and her principal thinks she was a perfect selection.

“She’s a focused young lady,” James Spanbauer, principal of the high school, said. “She’s a fantastic student. She’s one of those kids who’s quiet, but has her own way of getting along with anybody. I’m proud to have her as a student.”

Wallace will be one of three honorees at this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration, which begins at 6 p.m. Thursday in the high school’s performing arts center, 4455 Porter Road. The free event is open to the public.

Earning her place on the stage through her acceptance of differences and her presence throughout the community, Wallace carries herself with a calm demeanor which rarely evaporates. But she’s also a believer in standing up for what she holds to be true in life and following through with intensity and drive.

Those personality traits, she said, likely were the characteristics others saw in her, leading to the recognition she’ll receive Thursday.

“I’m not sure why they chose me,” she admitted. “I guess it was because I’m a people person. They like how I act around people. And I do try to be a person who fights for what I believe in. I go after what I want.”

In the years leading up to this honor, she’s been very driven. She has volunteered at Community Missions and Schoelkopf Nursing Home and also helped organize a community event at the Doris W. Jones Family Resource Center in connection with the death of Zenobia Williams, who was struck and killed a year ago in a hit-and-run pedestrian accident on Niagara Falls Boulevard at 82nd Street.

Wallace also helps teach Spanish to young students through the HOLA program, which places high school students in the classrooms at the elementary level.

These experiences have shaped her desired future. She said she plans on attending college next year with an intention of pursuing an early childhood development degree. She doesn’t know where she’ll go, but she knows she wants to become a teacher.

“I really like the idea of becoming a teacher,” she said. “I like children. Every child I meet, my face lights up. They just have this innocence. I feel like I can have a longer conversation with a 4-year-old than I can with an adult.”

Thursday’s ceremony will also honor W. Lee Whitaker and Joanne Lorenzo of the Magdalene Project, with a keynote address by Craig Pridgen of True Bethel Baptist Church, 1112 South Ave.