Springfield student wins antibullying scholarship

SPRINGFIELD — A high school senior from Springfield who plans to major in broadcast journalism in college has been named the first recipient of a scholarship named in honor of a pair of Western Massachusetts children who took their own lives after being bullied.

Springfield Central student James Villalobos was awarded the $1,500 Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover/Phoebe Prince scholarship by the Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover Foundation on Sunday.

The scholarship is funded by The Republican’s Newspaper in Education program and goes to a student who helps bring awareness to the problem of bullying.


Sixteen other high school ­seniors were awarded scholarships of $1,000 by the foundation.

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Villalobos is a member of the Mayor’s City-Wide Violence Prevention Task Force and in 2010 was appointed Hampden County representative to the Governor’s Statewide Youth Council. His long-term goal is to change the violent culture of media coverage.

‘‘The foundation rewards students for bringing more awareness to the issue of bullying. It also helps the victims and the bullies,’’ Villalobos, who plans to attend the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in the fall, told The Republican.

He added that it is important for students ‘‘to not be embarrassed or ashamed to tell adults’’ about bullies and to avoid seeing it as ‘‘snitching.’’

Regina Jeames, chairwoman of the foundation’s scholarship committee, said the winners showed their commitment to being leaders for change.


‘‘Each has made a personal commitment to make a difference by being the face of change,’’ she said.

The scholarship is named for Carl Walker-Hoover, a Springfield sixth-grader who took his own life in April 2009 just days before his 12th birthday, and South Hadley High student Phoebe Prince, who was 15 when she committed suicide in January 2010. Their deaths in response to relentless bullying drew national attention to the issue.

‘‘Carl’s memory is being carried on through the foundation, but also that of Phoebe and that of so many other countless students who have been bullied and who continue to be bullied,’’ Carl’s mother, Sirdeaner Walker said. “Work continues to need to be done at the federal level.”