Warner Norcross & Judd LLP announced the results of its 10th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Contest. The contest, which was open to all sixth-graders at Grand Rapids Public Schools, asked the students to prepare an essay focused on how Dr. King’s legacy of peace and justice applies to the world in which they live. This year’s competition included a record 327 entries from students at 10 schools.
The winners were:
- Bodie Bickford, Center for Economicology, grand prize
- Tanya Floyd, Riverside Middle School, first runner-up
- Demarus Jackson, Riverside Middle School, second runner-up
Each winning student will receive a certificate of deposit and a gift card to Schuler Books and Music. Additionally, 22 students from five schools received honorable mention recognition. They each will receive a gift card to Schuler Books and Music.
The essays were judged by more than 50 Warner Norcross attorneys and staff according to Michigan Education Assessment Program guidelines for narrative writing. The essays were evaluated for ideas, organization, style and conventions.
The grand prize winner has been invited to read his essay at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Community Peace Program at 12:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 19 following the Community Peace March and again at the Annual Celebration program at 6 p.m. Both events will be held at the Grand Rapids Community College Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse. In addition, the Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education will recognize all of the winners and 22 other students who received honorable mention at the Board’s meeting on Tuesday, January 20, 2015.
Congratulations to all of the students and teachers who participated in this year’s essay contest. The winning essays appear below:
Grand Prize Winner
Ms. Reed’s Sixth Grade Class at the Center for Economicology
“MY SUPER HEROES”
Heroes and role models use their gifts to help make the world a better place. They put the needs of others in front of their own needs and look for ways to help others. Heroes are courageous and brave. They do not run away from danger but instead they run towards it if they think someone is in need. Heroes are kind and nice and they never make people feel bad about needing help. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a great example of someone who is both a hero and a role model. He used his gifts to make the world a more fair and just place for all people and he was brave because he knew that not everyone agreed with his ideas and that he could die. My parents are not as famous as Dr. King but they are heroes and role models for my brothers and me.
There are many different kinds of heroes in this world. Some heroes risk their lives to help others like soldiers, firefighters and policemen. They have to run into burning buildings or chase after terrorists and criminals with weapons to make the world a safer place. Others are heroes because they provide things to others that make the world a better place even if they could make more money doing something else. Teachers, scientists and doctors are this kind of hero. Other people can be heroes in the moment. These are people who see something bad happening and they make a quick decision to do what they can to help. An example of this would be that if someone saw a person getting their purse stolen and they decide to chase after them to catch them or get the purse back just because it is the right thing to do. Another example of this is if someone is getting bullied at school and instead of ignoring it, the person tries to stop it or goes to get a teacher.
My Mom and Dad are a different kind of hero. They are what I call “everyday heroes.” They do not look like super heroes and they do not fight crime. My parents do what they can each day to help the lives of those around them better. They do this for me and my brothers but they also do it for my friends, our neighbors and people they don’t even know.
My parents are selfless. They spend all of their time coaching and running my brothers and me to our practices and games. They help out at school with baking, field trips and meetings. They teach Sunday school, do laundry and mow the lawn. They help me focus on my homework and they check my math. My parents always encourage me to do my best and they never give up on me even when I let myself down by not trying my hardest. If I let goals score in soccer that they know I could stop, they just talk through what I could do better and then they help me focus on the next chance I have to do my best. They do this with school too.
My parents never walk away from someone who is in need. At school when my Mom helps out on a field trip, she will give away her own lunch if someone forgets theirs even though she is a vegetarian. On a field trip to Rockford Dam my Mom took off her own long underwear and socks for a kid whose waders leaked so they would not be cold even though my Mom is always cold. My Dad always volunteers to coach or keep the book in baseball even though he would probably rather relax and watch the game. If someone on the team is sad about striking out or dropping a fly ball, my Dad will scoot over by them and cheer them up.
Being an everyday hero may not seem like much to you but it sure makes a big impact on me and I think on other people too. My parents make me want to be the very best person that I can be. When I get frustrated about my club feet and feel sorry for myself, I reflect back on how important it is to give my very best without excuses and just get up and try my hardest. I know that my parents won’t be upset if I don’t win as long as I tried my best. When I get mad at my parents for making me do much extra work I reflect on how my parents never do anything so so. This goes for everything from homemade brownies to cleaning the garage. It makes me want to give my best effort too.
When I am scared about failing at something like a test or a game I think about how courageous my parents are in facing whatever challenges come their way and I know if I give my best, they will be proud of me. That means I did not fail. When I get nervous about having more casts and surgeries on my feet I think about how brave my parents are and I remember how much they love me and how they work so hard to get me the best care in the world and then I just know I can face it.
When I watch my parents work so hard every day to the best people they can be, I know it is how I want to be. I see the impact they have on me, my brothers and everyone around us and I want to use my life to have impact like that. I want to be brave enough to the best son, brother, friend, soccer player, student, basketball player, neighbor, baseball player, athlete and one day husband, father and employee that I can be. I want to be just like my parents, my “every day heroes.”
1st Runner Up Winner
Ms. Holt’s Sixth Grade Class at Riverside Middle School
“WHAT CAN YOU DO TO ACCOMPLISH A DREAM?”
We all have a dream no matter where we live or who we are. Everybody DREAMS! Some people have selfish dreams like to win millions of dollars in the lottery, or to become a princess or a prince. But my dream isn’t like that; it is selfless like Martin Luther King, Jr.’s! In his “I Have a Dream” speech I read some sentiments that are like mine. For example Dr. King said, “Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.” Like Dr. King, I dream of ending unfair things, too, like teasing, bullying, discrimination, beheadings and hangings.
Maybe to accomplish Dr. King’s and my dreams we will need to pull some more heroes out of our world. To me, a hero is a person who wants to help just to be nice or that cares for no reason. A hero doesn’t have to have the ability to fly or have super strength to save the day; they just need to follow their hearts and have sophistication in them. The people I think that are heroes to me are the women and men who work at the Kids’ Food Basket. They are my role models because they help the kids that don’t get to go home and have a snack or eat large meals that other people get to eat. The women and men working there are my roles models because they give their own time and lots of money to help kids who can’t even have a small snack after school. I think it is very sweet that they would do something wonderful like that.
The people that are working at Kids’ Food Basket help me want to become a better person by showing me that I can help end hunger and help people who need assistance. My mother has even volunteered at the Kids’ Food Basket. In my opinion, when I heard that there are kids in this world that don’t have any food to eat and dirty water, I thought, “Hey why aren’t we all getting involved?” I plan to go down to their offices and ask how hold you have to be to work there. If I do get to help, then I will take my time to make food bags for people. We need to figure out ways to help all people live better lives. Our Constitution says that everybody has the right to go after their own happiness. We all should make that happen. I think the men and women at Kids’ Food Basket have the same characteristics as Dr. King did. Like the care and love they put into their actions, I want to have the same ones too.
If Dr. King was still alive, he would be proud of the great accomplishments that organizations like Kids’ Food Basket have done for these kids to help meet their needs. I plan to try to make the world a better place by going to school and going to college at Michigan State University. My dream was always to become a doctor or some kind of nurse to help people. I really hope my dream comes true.
I really hope that more and more people can help the kids and adults who need it when they can. Like Dr. King said, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward;” so do that and don’t give up. Don’t be the selfish dreamers, instead, work to feed the hungry. I’m going to try to make that my motto. When I work to accomplish a dream, I will do it in honor of Dr. King, not just for me. I will try my best to make a success in this world like King wanted us to. What can you do to accomplish your dream?
2nd Runner Up Winner
Ms. Holt’s Sixth Grade Class at Riverside Middle School
“MY HERO, MY FRIEND”
My definition of a hero is someone who helps people. Dr. King fits this definition because he did help people by trying to stop segregation. My friend Brent is also a hero but in a different way. He helps me with homework and he helps me with many other things. We are different races, but I think Dr. King would like that. Wasn’t that his whole point right from the very beginning?
I’ve known Brent ever since the first grade. He stepped into my life when I was 6. I was riding down a hilly street and found out I didn’t know how to use my brakes very well. As I cleared my head after crashing into a tree, I looked up and saw a kid standing there. He came up to me and said, “Hey, you ok?” I told him I thought so and that my wheel was messed up. Then I said, “Can you teach me how to ride a bike?” He said he could. He told me his name was Brent and he helped me get up.
The first two times he helped, I hit a couple of things, but on the 3rd time I learned how to ride a bike. That is how we became friends, and still are to this day. It was fun to have a new friend. I am glad that he is my best friend and we continue to help each other out. Heroes don’t need to wear a special outfit; they just need to be there when we crash.
Dr. King saved lots of people from being treated wrong with the words he used in his speeches. He said, “I Have a Dream…” which was helpful because it brought lots of people together. Even though we come from different backgrounds and look different, Brent and I get along. Dr. King would like him being my friend because he has taught me what the true meaning of hero is. Sometimes hero can be spelled F-r-i-e-n-d.