2015 APT Young Heroes Announced
Alabama Public Television Education

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Posted Apr 23, 2015

2015 APT Young Heroes Announced

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Alabama Public Television has announced the winners of its 2015 APT Young Heroes Awards.  Jaylon Beck of Demopolis, Semaj Johnson of Decatur, Alison Martin of Town Creek, Sidney Mechelle Barlow of Samson and Anna Thomas of Greenville will each receive a $3,000 scholarship to the school of their choice and other prizes as well.

To earn APT’s Young Heroes Award, youngsters must be full-time students in a 9th through 12th grade curriculum, have demonstrated academic excellence, been an active participant in their community and have shown the courage to persevere in the face of adversity.

The five winners will be honored at an awards dinner on Wednesday, April 29 at 6:30pm at the Embassy Suites Hotel & Conference Center in Montgomery.  Legislators from each of the students’ congressional districts have been invited to attend.


  • Jaylon Beck, is a senior at Demopolis High School.  His entire family was involved in a bus accident in 2007 that killed one cousin and severely injured his mother. His father suffered a major heart attack on New Year’s Eve.  Jaylon maintains excellent grades and is a member of the National Beta Club and the high school’s choir and yearbook staff. He participates on the track and field team and in drama.
  • Semaj Johnson is a junior at Austin High School in Decatur. Semaj suffers from sickle-cell disease (SCD) but has not let the crippling condition define him. He is a JROTC Staff Sergeant and a member of the award-winning color guard team. He is also involved in student council, theater and the newspaper staff. He participated in Relay For Life and founded an organization devoted to raising money to diagnose and treat SCD in young children.
  • Alison Martin attends Hatton High School in Town Creek.  Alison survived a car accident in 2013 that killed her sister and left Alison in a coma for six weeks.  While she continues working hard to regain her speech and fine motor skills, Alison is a member of the National Beta Club, Native American Student Club and Leo Club. She maintains a 3.5 grade point average and is ranked 10th in her class.
  • Sidney Mechelle Barlow is a senior at Samson High School in Samson. Sidney has overcome childhood exposure to domestic violence and parental substance abuse and has helped care for her younger siblings and household since she was 13.  Despite difficulties at home, she ranks in the top ten of her class and is an active member of FFCLA, the Library Club, and the yearbook staff at school. She manages the Lady Tiger’s softball, basketball and volleyball teams, plays in the band, and volunteers with youth groups, food pantries and other service organizations in her community.
  • Anna Thomas is a student at Greenville High School in Greenville. Anna’s early life included a violent home situation caused by substance abuse. She has cared for both her mother and grandmother for several years and helps support the household. While working a part-time job and taking night classes four days a week to catch up on classes she had to miss when transferring schools, Anna is an active member of JROTC. She is also a member of the national mathematics club Mu Alpha Theta and Tri-M Honor Society (National Association of Music Education).

In addition to a scholarship, each Young Hero will receive a trophy and a tablet computer with software suitable for a college student. One of the five winners will be selected to receive an additional award — the Marissa Feigelson Award for community service — that offers an additional $1,000 scholarship. That announcement will be made as part of the ceremony on April 29.

The APT Young Heroes and their families will stay in Montgomery for a day of special events on Thursday, April 30th. They will be welcomed by the Alabama House of Representatives on Thursday morning at 9:00am, and by the Alabama Senate on Thursday morning at 10:00am.  In the afternoon, they will visit the Alabama Department of Archives and History for a guided tour. In the evening they will attend a performance of The Importance of Being Earnest at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

The APT Young Heroes Awards is made possible by the generous donations of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, Books-A-Million, Honda, Publix and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

Learn more at the 2015 APT Young Heroes Awards online at www.aptv.org/heroes

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2015 Alabama Young Heroes Awards

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2015 Alabama Young Hero Anna Thomas

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2015 Alabama Young Hero Alison Martin

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2015 Alabama Young Hero Sidney Mechelle Barlow

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2015 Alabama Young Hero Semaj Johnson

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2015 Alabama Young Hero Jaylon Beck

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