Archive for the ‘Martin Luther King Jr Holiday’ Category.

A Letter to Dr. King

Twanyea Smith, the winner of this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., reads his Grand Prize winning essay at the Community Celebration to honor Dr. King on January 18, 2016.  To read Twanyea’s essay and those of the other students honored in the competition, click here. Twanyea is a student in Ms. Emily Holt’s class at Riverside Middle School. (Be patient. The video takes a while to load.)

The essay contest, which is in its 11th year, is open to all sixth-graders at Grand Rapids Public Schools.  Winners are selected by the attorneys and staff of Warner Norcross & Judd LLP.

Winners of the 11th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP has announced the results of its Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Contest.  The contest, which is in its 11th year, is open to all sixth-graders at Grand Rapids Public Schools.  Students are 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 297 entries from students at 10 schools.

The winners of this year’s contest are:

  • Twanyea Smith, Riverside Middle School, Grand Prize
  • Dayshawn Fields, Riverside Middle School, 1st Runner Up
  • Niko Hinzmann, Center for Economicology, 2nd Runner Up (tie)
  • Kanyia Brown, Riverside Middle School, 2nd Runner Up (tie)

Each of the winners receives a certificate of deposit and a gift card to Schuler Books and Music.  Additionally, 20 students from 5 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 from across the State of Michigan. The essays we judged 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 Celebration program at 6 p.m. on January 18, 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 the students who received honorable mention at the Board’s meeting on Monday, February 2, 2016.

Congratulations to all of the students who participated in this year’s essay contest and to their teachers.  The winning essays appear below:

 Grand Prize Winner

Twanyea Smith

Ms. Holt’s class at Riverside Middle School

“A Letter to Dr. King”

Dear Dr. King,

Most of the seven billion people on the earth still miss you. Even though you are in a better place, I know you would be willing to help us out like you did in the 1960s. I have to give you credit because even though the world is not a perfect place to be in, you put a giant footstep toward equality in the world. People should keep remembering what you did for our country. You always knew that the most dangerous condition for people is ignorance. Many people have forgotten this, so of course there are some groups of people going against what you stood for.

Now, my question for you is: Would you do it all over again? I can take a pretty good guess that you would. Your answer would be yes because you care for all of the people on this earth today. What I don’t know is what you would advise us to do about Isis and the terrorist people killing innocent ones. What about people who think that only one kind of life matters? Do you think your non-violent approach would work in 2015-16? Many of us are trying it, but nothing positive is happening. People keep getting killed every day.

Dr. King, I’m not trying to ruin your non-violent dream, but in 2015, it is not working out so well. Back then did you have so many people with anger management issues? We do. Some people with anger issues today didn’t learn your non-violence. They will hit back, shoot back, do anything to get revenge. I need some advice to help our world. Getting advice from you is like getting advice from Stephen Curry on shooting a basketball.

Well, Dr. King, I guess I’d better close now. I sure appreciate you taking the time to read my letter in heaven. So Dr. King, I will think of you when I am in a heated situation. I will ask myself what you would do or say. Hopefully I can see you in person in heaven one day.

 

1st Runner Up

Dayshawn Fields

Ms. Holt’s class at Riverside Middle School

“Betrayal and Beyond”

            Do you stick up for those in need? A powerful statement by Dr. Martin Luther King says it all, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” If you have a friend, and somewhere down the road that friend needs your help but you don’t offer it, what would Dr. King have to say to you?

There is a main reason that this statement has so much impact on my life. My dad hasn’t been in my life permanently, and I haven’t seen him in a long time. I text him, but he doesn’t reply. While he hasn’t betrayed me physically where I don’t see him at all, he has not been available when it would possible for him to be. He has betrayed his son, a thing Dr. King would not be very fond of. I still love my dad, that’s a thing Dr. King would be exceptionally proud of.

From my experiences, and my studies of the wonderful Dr. King, I feel that someday I will be able to have a positive impact on my family by being the best father I can be. I don’t ever want it said of me that my children suffered the silence of betrayal. I don’t want my children to have their father not there when they are going through the difficult or stressful times. Kids need their dads when they first enter preschool, or when they make their first sports team. Event things like relationships can use advice from a father. Then there’s the start of high school and college with no father figure around for support and love. I don’t want any of those negative possibilities.

Dr. King would be very proud of those looking out for others, and he would be very thankful to those putting others in front of themselves. He would also be very appreciative of those who defend America. These include all the military groups, SWAT teams, our local policies officers, and of course, the mighty firefighters. They do their jobs, just like Dr. King did. He spent his life defending America from itself.

While I gave a negative example of the impact this statement has had on my life, it also has provided me a positive one. Dr. King’s words remind me how important it is to be there for others. It must have had the same effect on many other people, so for those of you who are always there, especially when you are needed the most, what would Dr. King have to say to you? I think he would say, “Well done!”

2nd Runner Up (tie)

Niko Hinzmann

Mrs. Phillips class at the Center for Economicology

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

 

You don’t have to look very far back in history to see that things were very different. People of color were strongly discriminated against, even after years of being enslaved. Some may find it hard to believe that a person would be treated so unfairly just because of the color of their skin. Sadly people were and sometimes still are.

Not only are people of color discriminated against though. Even something as simple as having a different believe from someone can get you treated in an unfair manner. It’s not fun to think about, but people even today discriminate unfairly. Everyone deserves equal rights in my eyes. If we want the world to live in peace and harmony we cannot be racist or closed-minded. Being open-minded is an important life skill that you will need to live a successful life.

Throughout your life you will need to work with people of different races that possess different believes. If you want to get things done, you have to be accepting and have open arms for equal rights. Some people have troubles with grasping this concept. Not everyone thinks that everyone should have equal rights. Lots of older people are still racist because of how and when they were raised. People tend to have the same morals and ways of raising their children as their parents. If you grew up in a racist and closed-minded household, you tend to think in that unfair way.

You don’t even have to be older to have these ways of thinking. Often times children grow up to be racist because their parents were racist. If all you hear while you’re growing up is negativity and racism, you grow up to be that way. No one is born racist; you are simply raised that way.

Equality and equal rights for everyone will take lots of time, but I do believe it’s possible. Many people in my neighborhood are racist and rude to those of whom have different beliefs from them. Instead of getting upset with them for their ways of thinking, feel bad that they aren’t accepting and won’t be able to experience great things in life because of how they view others who are different.

If you feel like you want to help others see how beautiful equality can be, don’t force it on them. Force can lead to violence, and like how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed, violence is not the answer. Don’t get mad if you can’t help the person, just hope that they will see how amazing equal rights can be.

You don’t even have to say anything; be a silent role model for those around you.

Even if you’re the only person you know who supports equal rights 100%, don’t ever change that part of yourself. Just because you’re standing alone doesn’t mean you have to change what you believe is right. You shouldn’t be embarrassed of supporting equality; be proud. Stand tall and support equal rights!

 

2nd Runner Up (tie)

Kanyia Brown

Ms. Holt’s class at Riverside Middle School

 “The Unseen Staircase”

            Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., what are we going to do with all this violence in our world? You once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” I need to keep this in mind when I look around at our world.

To me, your words mean believing in something that you’ve never actually seen before. Violence is killing our world; darkness and evil are eating up our lives. People are shooting at students in schools, bombing cities, and fighting each other. People are abusing their kids and some are raising them to hate anyone with skin colors that are different than theirs. I need to keep believing that there are solutions to these problems. I hope we have enough time an courage to figure out what they are.

My teacher says that we often live what we learn. Dr. King, sometimes you can’t change what’s already in someone’s head. Some people are taught to hate others that are different than they are, like a different race than theirs. We have too many people who use guns in the wrong ways or situations. But if you think about it, we need to have the power to protect ourselves too. But not in the wrong way. We have to defeat them with our power. That power is kindness.

Rose Parks and Dr. King both were always kind even when  they were fighting injustice. Rose Parks fought for her seat because she thought it was unfair for African-Americans to be required to sit in the back of public buses, but she wasn’t the unkind one.

Dr. King, you once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” I know it was dark back then, and it’s still dark now. We need the light you shed a long time ago to come back.

I’m just a 6th grader at Riverside Middle School. At my school, our behavior specialist, Mr. Smiley, just had a terrible thing happen in his life. His son recently died in a car crash and I feel for him. I know he wouldn’t want me to keep on feeling back; he would want me to focus on school. He’s always trying to keep us all focused and positive each day. I know these things happen in life; life is imperfect. Yet, even when you, Martin Luther King, was in a horrible situation, you tried to remember to see the whole picture even when it wasn’t done yet.

I hope I can hold on to my belief that faith in good things will carry me through all the rest of my life. I hope I can be like you and see the whole staircase and have trust with every step I take.

MLK Essay Contest Winners Recognized at the GRPS Board of Education Meeting

The winners of Warner Norcross & Judd’s 10th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest were recognized at Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Education of the Grand Rapids Public Schools.  Diversity Partner Rodney Martin introduced the three contest winners, who each had the opportunity to read their essays to the Board.  In addition, Mr. Martin introduced each of the 22 honorable mention students to the Board.  Vice President Slade invited each of the students to come forward to shake hands with members of the Board.

The 2015 winners of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest.  (From left to right) Second Runner Up Demarus Jackson (Riverside Middle School), First Runner Up Tanya Floyd (Riverside Middle School), and Grand Prize Winner Bodie Bickford (The Center for Economicology)

The 2015 winners of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest. (From left to right) Second Runner Up Demarus Jackson (Riverside Middle School), First Runner Up Tanya Floyd (Riverside Middle School), and Grand Prize Winner Bodie Bickford (The Center for Economicology)

The winners and honorable mention recipients in this year's Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest.

The winners and honorable mention recipients in this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest.

Announcing the Winners of the 2015 Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest

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

Bodie Bickford

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

 Tanya Floyd

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

Demarus Jackson

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.

Essay Contest Winners Recognized by the Grand Rapids School Board

Warner Norcorss & Judd Diversity Partner poses with the winners of the 2014 Martin Luther King, Jr. , essay contest.  From left to right: Sophia Crumback-Tarrien, Maya Barbee, and Sofe Blomeling.

Warner Norcorss & Judd Diversity Partner poses with the winners of the 2014 Martin Luther King, Jr. , essay contest. From left to right: Sophia Crumback-Tarrien, Maya Barbee, and Sofe Blomeling.

Twenty-three students who participated in the 9th annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest conducted by Warner Norcross & Judd were recognized last evening at a meeting of the Grand Rapids School Board. The three winners — Sofe Blomeling, Sophia Crumback-Tarrien, and Maya Barbee — each read their essays to the Board. Blomeling, the grand prize winner, received a standing ovation from the Board and the members of the audience. In addition, the twenty students who received honorable mention were invited to come forward and receive their awards.

Essay Contest Winners Recognized at Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Celebrations

The winners of Warner Norcross & Judd’s 9th annual Martin Luther King Essay Contest were recognized at two programs on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  The top three essayist and the twenty recipients of honorable mention awards were introduced at the Community Peace Program for students in the Kent Intermediate School District and again at the annual Community Celebration program, both held at the Grand Rapids Community College Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse.  The winning essays are can be found here. Here are a couple of photos from the event. 

Maya Barbee (2nd Runner Up) and Sofe Christine Blomeling (Grand Prize winner) pose before the Community Peace Ceremony

Maya Barbee (2nd Runner Up) and Sofe Christine Blomeling (Grand Prize winner) pose before the Community Peace Ceremony

Students in Ms. Holt's class at Riverside Middle School who received Honorable Mention awards, along with their classmate Sofe Christine Blomeling, who was the Grand Prize winner.

Students in Ms. Holt’s class at Riverside Middle School who received Honorable Mention awards, along with their classmate Sofe Christine Blomeling, who was the Grand Prize winner.