2021 Stop the Hate Contest Winners Announced

The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage is proud to announce the 2021 winners of the 13th Annual Stop the Hate® Youth Speak Out & Youth Sing Out Contest. The contest annually awards $100,000 in scholarships and prizes to middle and high school upstanders speaking out against bias and bigotry through essay writing and songwriting. Winners were announced on May 11 at 3:30pm via the museum’s website (www.maltzmuseum.org).

Thomas Smyers celebrates his win with Shaker Heights High School principal and teachers.
Thomas Smyers celebrates his win with Shaker Heights High School principal and teachers.

As part of the big reveal, Stop the Hate Committee Chair, Darrell McNair, surprised the grand prize winner, Thomas Smyers of Shaker Heights High School, at his home. Family, friends, and teachers who were in on the surprise, stood on the lawn cheering as Thomas received a giant check for $20,000 and Principal Eric Juli received an anti-bias education grant for $5,000. Cleveland.com’s Facebook Live Reporter, Hannah Drown, captured the event, including when Thomas read his winning essay on the topic of advancing racial justice in America. The video has been viewed nearly 7,000 times in less than 24 hours.

The Stop the Hate contest has two components: Youth Speak Out, essay writing for individual students, and Youth Sing Out, songwriting for classrooms. Both celebrate Northeast Ohio upstanders in grades 6 – 12 who are committed to creating a more accepting, inclusive society.

Since the contest began 13 years ago, the Maltz Museum has awarded $1.3 million to students and schools in 12 counties across Northeast Ohio, with an estimated reach of nearly 40,000 young people.


2021 Stop the Hate® Youth Speak Out Winners

Congratulations, 11th & 12th Grade Winners

Grand Prize Winner ($20,000 scholarship, $5,000 anti-bias education grant to the school)

  • Thomas Smyers of Shaker Heights High School

1st Runner Up ($10,000 scholarship, $2,000 anti-bias education grant to the school)

  • Jessica Chang of Hathaway Brown

2nd Runner Up ($5,000 scholarship, $2,000 anti-bias education grant to the school)

  • AJ Shorts of Brush High School

Honorable Mentions($1,000 scholarship, $500 anti-bias education grant to the school)

  • Lillie Alsheikhtaha of Brush High School
  • Madaleine Carter of Beaumont High School
  • Lauren Clar of Beachwood High School
  • Lillian Irizarry of Beaumont High School
  • Kynnedy Smith of Hawken High School
  • Khadija Top of Beaumont High School
  • Bowen Zhang of Beachwood High School

Congratulations, 6th – 10th Grade Winners(1st place winners receive a $500 cash prize. 2nd place winners receive a trophy and family membership to the Maltz Museum)

Grade 10

  • 1st place: Elizabeth Huang of Shaker Heights High School
  • 2nd place: Annel Hodges of Cleveland Central Catholic High School

Grade 9

  • 1st place: Margaret Anne Hustak of Holy Name High School
  • 2nd place: Rafaela Nurieva of Mayfield High School

Grade 8

  • 1st place: Sharbel Harb of Brecksville-Broadview Heights Middle School
  • 2nd place: Shreya Chellu of Beachwood Middle School

Grade 7

  • 1st place: Anthony Fritzgerald Jr. of Saint Paschal Baylon School
  • 2nd place: Anshul Sharma of Ballard Brady Middle School

Grade 6

  • 1st place: Calayla Holmes of Homeschooled
  • 2nd place: Hayden Lipinski of Hudson Middle School

Thank you to the 1,500+ students who submitted essays, the 400+ volunteer readers who scored essays, and this year’s panel of Youth Speak Out judges who scored the top ten 11th & 12th grade finalists’ essays: Greer Gibbons, Project Manager, The Lubrizol Corporation; Phyllis Seven Harris, Executive Director, The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland; Eduardo Kim, Partner, Thompson Hine; Gregg Levine, Consultant, Ratliff & Taylor; Monyka Price, Chief of Education, City of Cleveland; and, Cecilia H. Render, Executive Director, Nordson Corporation Foundation.


2021 Stop the Hate® Youth Sing Out Finalists

1st place receives a $3,500 anti-bias education grant for the school. Runner-up receives a $2,000 anti-bias education grant for the school. In the case of a tie, the schools split the funds evenly.

Congratulations, High School Winners

  • 1st Place: Daybreak, performed by Bethany Svoboda
  • Written by Kari Beery’s 8th Period Class of Mayfield High School

  • 2nd Place (tie): Love Wins, performed by Brent Kirby
  • Written by Lawton & Lundgard’s 6th Period Class of Midview High School

  • 2nd Place (tie): Our Pain, performed by Charlie Mosbrook
  • Written by Laverne McLain’s 4th Period Class of Max S. Hayes High School

Congratulations, Middle School Winners

  • 1st Place: Stand Up and Talk About It, performed by Ray Flanagan
  • Written by Andrea Soncina’s Grade 7 Class, Harding Middle School

  • 2nd Place: Stand Up, Work Together, Cheer Up, performed by Sam Hooper
  • Written by Andrea Soncina’s Grade 8 Class, Garfield Middle School

Thank you to the 35 classrooms and 700+ students who participated this year as well as the exceptional panel of Youth Sing Out judges: Taylor Barnes, Director of Resource Development, YWCA of Greater Cleveland; Joe Butler, Manager of Education, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; Edward P. Gallagher, MT-BC – Director of Education, The Beck Center for the Arts; Jeff Niesel, Music Editor, Cleveland Scene; Christelle Saint – Fleur, Community Outreach Manager, Center for Arts-Inspired Learning.


2021 Stop the Hate® Teachers of the Year

$1,000 cash prize in recognition of their personal commitment to anti-bias education

  • Kari Beery of Mayfield High School
  • Tamara Blair of Newton D. Baker School of the Arts


2021 Stop the Hate Schools of the Year

This year, $30,000 was set aside for schools participating in free Stop the Hate online workshops. The following schools will split the funds evenly, each receiving anti-bias education grants in the amount of $1,034 to be used in the year ahead.

Andrew J. Rickoff Elementary School, Charles F. Brush High School, Citizens Leadership Academy, Cleveland Central Catholic High School, Cleveland Heights High School, Collinwood High School, East Tech High School, Garfield Middle School, Harding Middle School, Hathaway Brown, International Newcomers Academy, James Ford Rhodes High, Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School, Lincoln-west Global Studies, Longfellow Middle School, Luis Munoz Marin School, Mary M. Bethune Elementary, Max S. Hayes High School, Mayfield High School, Midview High School, Midview Middle School, Monticello Middle School, Mound Elementary School, Newton D. Baker School of Arts, North Canton Middle School, St. Christopher Elementary School, St. Vincent–St. Mary High School, and Wade Park School


By the Numbers

The Maltz Museum wishes to thank its partners Lake Erie Ink, Roots of American Music, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for helping create this year’s new digital learning tools and delivering Stop the Hate writing workshops into Northeast Ohio classrooms.

Additional thanks go to the educators and mentors who used the new Stop the Hate recommended reading list, learning guide, and digital tour. Together, the Maltz Museum and its partners delivered anti-bias education to the classrooms of 3,000 young people through Stop the Hate workshops and received upstander essays from 1,500 6th – 12th grade students. An estimated 4,000 students participated in the Stop the Hate digital tour and 300 educators and mentors downloaded the Stop the Hate learning guide. In total, the Stop the Hate program exceeded expectations with an estimated 8,800 student and educator touch points in 2021.

More information about these resources, can be found online at www.maltzmuseum.org/learn

Visit the Maltz Museum’s website to read the emotional and inspiring essays as well as listen to the empowering songs penned by Northeast Ohio students: www.maltzmuseum.org/STH


Stop the Hate®is made possible by the generous support of Presenting Sponsors: The Semi J. and Ruth Begun Foundation and Dworkin & Bernstein; For Youth Speak Out: Dealer Tire, Dominion Energy, the Nordson Corporation Foundation, and the Helen F. Stolier and Louis Stolier Family Foundation; For Youth Sing Out: The Martha Holden Jennings Foundation. The Maltz Museum is generously supported by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, Jewish Federation of Cleveland, and Ohio Arts Council