Motivated by the thwarted shooting plot by four students at neighboring Summerville High School in Tuolumne and a death threat against a student at her own school, a Sonora High senior has joined a national campaign to spotlight good works by teenagers.
Courtney Schertz chose the Beauty Revived campaign as her senior project and is working with mentor Jennifer Rapoza, a professional photographer in Sonora, to find fellow seniors who are making a positive impact in their schools and community.
“I joined with Jennifer ... for this campaign because I wanted to expose high school students to the idea of inner beauty,” Schertz said in a news release from Beauty Revived. “A truly beautiful person is kind, caring and beautiful on the inside. And that’s what I would like to show my peers.”
According to its website, Beauty Revived’s mission is to “inspire and empower photographers of faith and integrity to shed light on the good, the strong and the beautiful.” Photographers around the world tell the stories of their subjects on the site and in Beauty Revived’s quarterly print magazine.
Rapoza became Schertz’s senior project mentor when the student said she wanted to pursue something that had an element of photography.
“Then this (news of the Beauty Revived campaign) came across my desk and I asked her, ‘Are you interested in adopting it as your senior project?’ ” Rapoza said by phone. “She was excited and I said, ‘It’s yours.’ The timing was really good because she wanted to do something photography-related and giving.”
Rapoza said she liked the idea of working with a nationwide campaign because it gets Sonora youth involved in something “bigger than our little pond. ... Students throughout the country right now are doing this.”
Nominations for Schertz and Rapoza’s Beauty Revived contest are being accepted through Oct. 30. Forms can be obtained at Sonora High or from Rapoza, who can be contacted at www.jenniferrapozaphotography.com.
“The people who will nominate these seniors have to fill out an application saying why they’re worthy,” Rapoza said. “We’re looking for students who have made a difference in school or the community or overcome adversity. The goal is to bring out the good in people, not just the superficial beauty.”
Schertz already had received 20 nominations as of Thursday. The winner will receive a free senior portrait session from Rapoza and the chance to be in the Beauty Revived site and magazine and awarded a scholarship from the campaign. A panel including Schertz’s mother, Rapoza, a local businesswoman and hair and makeup artist who is donating her time, will narrow the nominees to one winner.
By a Dec. 1 deadline, the local winner’s photos and story will be submitted to Beauty Revived, which will pick 50 subjects to feature in its magazine, Rapoza said. “Three will be given $3,500 scholarships each,” the Sonora High alum said. “That was the big thing for Courtney and I, because each year the school has a scholarship night. How cool would that be to stand up there and give a student one of the $3,500 scholarships?
“But the main thing I’m looking at is encouraging our community and our students to look around our community and see the good, increase the awareness of it.”
“I hope that this campaign will cause the students and staff of Sonora High School to take a close look at those seniors around them who are doing good,” Rapoza said in the news release. “So much attention and emphasis lately has been on the negative of teens in our area. I hope to turn the table so that the community can see that there truly is good here still.”
Early this month, Tuolumne County sheriff’s deputies arrested four male students after uncovering a shooting plot targeting Summerville High School.
Students had noticed three suspects acting suspiciously and notified administrators. School staff on the Tuolumne campus immediately called the Sheriff’s Office.
During the investigation, detectives identified a fourth suspect. While serving two search warrants in the case, authorities found “evidence verifying a plot to shoot staff and students at Summerville High School,” which the suspects later confessed to in statements to investigators.
Several days after that news, the latest in a string of death threats against a Sonora High School student was turned over to police. The targeted student found the note in her locker, according to the Union Democrat in Sonora. “It is the second she received this year after being the target of increasingly aggressive text messages that climaxed in her attack in a school bathroom in May,” the newspaper reported.
Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327