Miami Teen Turns Arrest Into Award

Princeton recognizes Edison High senior for race-relations program

A Miami Edison student who was arrested during a racially charged riot last year has turned her negative experience into an Ivy League award. 

After developing a curriculum to help new teachers address the needs of urban students, Senior Tranette Myrthil won this year's Princeton Prize in Race Relations, which includes a $1,000 cash prize. Next month she'll fly to the New Jersey college for a student symposium on race.

"I'm really proud," Myrthil, 18, told the Miami Herald. "I'm glad something good came out of that whole situation."

The incident that sparked Myrthil's plan happened last spring, and involved several hundred students battling with dozens of police officers outside the Miami school.

Students had gathered to protest the alleged mistreatment of a student by an assistant principal. When students threw food and water, then chairs and fire extinguishers at school police, the real cops were called in.

In the aftermath, 10 police officers and six students were treated for minor injuries, and over two dozen teens were arrested, including Myrthil.

"At first, I was thinking negatively about everything," Myrthil told the Herald. "My mom wanted to take me out of Edison. I had to beg to stay for my senior year."

Her frustrations over the incident gave birth to her award-winning project, and her efforts to put students and teachers in each others' shoes are being lauded by Princeton Prize committe members.

"The more understanding there is between those two groups, the better schools can be in improving the school community," said Jonathan Colan, an assistant U.S. attorney in Miami and member of the committee. "It shows that people are dedicated -- even in the face of what had been a bad situation last year."

Myrthil, who is headed to the University of North Florida this fall, isn't sure what the future holds for her but knows she wants to make a difference.

"Whatever I end up doing, I just want to make sure I help people," she told the Herald.

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