Archive for the ‘Outreach’ Category.

Winners of the 2018-19 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest

Warner Norcross + Judd is pleased to announce the winners of its 14th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., essay contest.  The firm conducts the contest each year to honor the legacy and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The contest is open to sixth graders in the Grand Rapids Public Schools.  The firm received 336 essay submissions from 15 different schools. Essays were judged by more than 50 Warner attorneys and staff in our offices across the state. The essays were evaluated for ideas, organization, style and conventions.

This year’s winners are:

  • Roz McBrier, Ridgemoor Park Montessori, Grand Prize
  • Ellouise Lambertson, John Ball Zoo School, First Runner-Up
  • Henry Robinette, North Park Montessori, Second Runner-Up

Additionally, 22 students from 10 different schools received honorable mentions. They attend Center for Economicology, Grand Rapids Montessori, Grand Rapids Public Museum School, Harrison Park School, John Ball Zoo School, North Park Montessori, Ridgemoor Park Montessori, Riverside Middle School, University Prep Academy and Westwood Middle School.

The winning essays appear below:

Grand Prize 

Roz McBrier 

Ms. Joy’s Class

Ridgemoor Park Montesorri

Keeping Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream Alive

 Imagine a world where we appreciated our differences and treated every human being equally. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream to end racism and provide equal rights for all. We can keep his dream alive by using our right to vote, educating ourselves on other cultures and races, along with being kind and respectful to everyone.

Voting allows us to help choose the leaders who make laws and solve problems. Our leaders are able to make laws that improve people’s lives. When voting, choose a leader that cares about the lives of their people and believes in equal rights for all. On August 26, 1920, women finally earned the right to vote. When women and people of color were finally allowed to vote, their opinions were, and still are, heard and supported by leaders. Voting also helps keep laws in place to protect everyone’s rights.

Learning about other races and cultures leads to a better understanding of others. Try to find something in common with someone different than you. It helps you get along and understand them better. Try to visit new places, attend meetings, or religious services. This first hand experience with other cultures can also help you understand people better. Educate yourself on the correct language to use when describing another person or their origin. If you don’t know the right language, ask. This will make sure that you aren’t being racist by using uneducated terms. Most people have problems or fears of other races simply because they do not understand them. We can eliminate those fears by educating ourselves about other cultures and races.

Every person in this world is different, but being different doesn’t make someone better or worse. Treat others as you want to be treated. Remember to stop and think before you speak or act unkind. Following the golden rule can put us in another person’s shoes so you can understand them and treat them with respect. Don’t laugh at racist jokes or allow another person to be laughed at because of the color of their skin or their culture. When we laugh at racist jokes or allow someone to be treated unequally, we are saying racism is ok and ignoring the problem. If you see someone being treated with disrespect, say or do something to stop it. Reach out to people being left out. Kindness is sitting with the kid who has no friends, asking them about themselves, letting them know that they are not alone. Everyone in this world deserves kindness and respect no matter what race, gender, or culture.

On the whole, ending racism and providing equal rights for all is not a simple task. However, there are ways each of us can help keep Martin Luther King’s dream alive. Voting for leaders that support equal rights, educating ourselves on other races and cultures, and treating every person with kindness and respect are perfect ways to start. Martin Luther King Jr. was quoted saying, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” We should all keep his words as inspiration to keep his dream of equal rights for all alive.

First Runner Up

 Ellouise Lambertson

Mr. John Fordney’s class

John Ball Zoo School

“I have a dream today … I have a dream that one day every valley shall be made love. Rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight. The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be fine one day.”

Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream was to end racism and provide equal rights for all. Together we can keep his dream alive by treating people fairly, with equality, and with kindness. There are many simple ways that we can all keep Dr. King Jr’s dream around.

By befriending someone we can keep king’s dream functioning. Just reach out to somebody and ask them if they’d be your friend. Ask them about their hobbies, their family, what they like to do for fun, maybe even invite them to your house. Get to know a person! Slowly and honestly, seeking nothing in return except to know and love them. Your best friend that you never knew might be your neighbor, or even someone in your school! Start small but with purpose, this is how love grows. Encourage others to do the same, it’s best for everyone.

We can also help by paying attention to social issues, find one that troubles you, and work to eliminate it. Don’t ignore the issues of today that make you uncomfortable.  Embrace sympathy, let them trouble you, and let your soul be troubled by the weight of injustice. But even more than that, take action! Volunteer, feed the homeless, donate, or maybe even change the law. Awareness breeds action and action breeds change.

We can serve others. Whether you’d like to admit it or not humans are selfish people, we like thinking that the world revolves around us, but life definitely isn’t that way. You can share your time, money, talents, or passion, but make the decision to share it with others. Even a simple commitment to do something with someone once a week or even once a month will make a difference.

To benefit we can lead by example. Though far from perfect, Martin led by example. He didn’t tell people to march while he lounged on the couch, he marched with them. He showed others the beauty of non-violent protests. We can all do the same at home, at school, at the park, and even in court, wherever you are you have the chance to lead by example. Lead and let your principals guide you. Even if the road seems long, rough, or hard. As Dr. King said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige and even his life for the welfare of others.”

We can have faith in everything even when it seems impossible. Dr. King had many days filled with doubt. He was hopeful, but unsure, prayerful, but sometimes discouraged. This too is our story no matter what battles we face. Dr. King reminds us by his life and his words as he said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” So don’t you dare give up. Believe just as much you do when it’s hard as you do when it’s easy. The persistent beauty of our faith is our greatest legacy.

So as the world celebrates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., don’t count yourself out. You are a part of his legacy whether or not you share his ethnicity or race because his legacy is one of peace, of passion, of service, and of faith. Though Dr. King’s life was marked by hard times, discouragement, and moments of defeat, it was ultimately a life full of courage and grace and that is a legacy we should all pursue to keep. In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, let’s decide to stick with love, hate is too great of a burden to bear.

Second Runner Up

Henry Robinette

Mrs. Ettinger’s class

North Park Montessori

We must all live together as brothers or perish together as fools” Martin Luther King Jr made that statement at the St. Louis speech on March 22 1964. I also believe that we need to live together as brothers and sisters because when something positive happens in our community it all affects us positively, but when something negative in the community it affects us negatively. This speaks to me in many ways.

Positive acts can cancel negative acts out. For example, one of the ways this speaks to me is when I’m feeling really, really down, people cheer me up, then I feel better. We need to learn to forgive each other too or we’ll “perish together as fools”. I figured out if you forgive someone they’ll probably forgive you too, then everything will be alright. Forgiving will always make things better.

When we contribute to our community many benefit. For example, last year part of our school went to an apple orchard and picked apples for Feeding America. The farm we went to, Ridgeview Orchards, donated hundreds of pounds of apples. Feeding America donates food to 490,100 people. That’s helping a lot of people. We had fun and learned about food, and people got fed. Both our school and the people that needed food benefited. Doing one kind thing can affect a lot of people.

Another way this speaks to me is when I’m arguing with someone, especially my friends. We just throw reasons why the other is in the wrong at each other with no compromises or agreements and we just end up angry at each other. I think everybody needs to think about this when they are in a feud with somebody. If we don’t learn to deal with each other, nobody’s ever going to be happy. Being angry at people won’t do anything but bad.

When I see injustice, like families getting separated at the border, it make me sad even though it’s not me. It connects to MLK’s quote not only because they’re literally separating brothers, but also it hurts many people. I can’t imagine getting separated from my family. It also makes other immigrants scared about getting separated from their family too. Injustice doesn’t just affect one person.

Even though this was said 54 years ago MLK’s words are still relevant today, doing kind things will affect the community positively and doing unkind things will affect the community negatively. We all need to try to live as brothers and sisters.

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 School Board Meeting

Diversity Partner Rodney Martin appeared before the Grand Rapids Public School Board on Monday, February 4 to present the awards to the winners and recipients of honorable mention recognition in the 8th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest conducted by Warner Norcross & Judd.  Here are a couple pictures taken after the presentation.

Grand Prize winner Daijon Miller (left) and First Runner Up Tyevon Williams, with Diversity Partner Rodney Martin

Grand Prize winner Daijon Miller (left) and First Runner Up Tyevon Williams, with Diversity Partner Rodney Martin


2012-13 Essay Contest Winners and Honorable Mention Awardees

2012-13 Essay Contest Winners and Honorable Mention Awardees

WNJ Announces Winners in the 2009-10 Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP has announced the results of its Fifth Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest.

The contest, which was open to all sixth-grade students within Grand Rapids Public Schools, challenged the students to write an essay on one of four topics designed to encourage students to think about how Dr. King’s legacy of peace and justice applies to the world in which they live. More than 110 students entered this year’s competition.

The winning essays appear below. In addition to these essays, 17 students received an Honorable Mention award.

The winning essayist will read her essay at the Grand Rapids Community College Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration events at 12:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 18. All winners will be invited to read their essays at the Grand Rapids Public School board meeting on Monday, Feb. 1.

Here are the winning essays.

Grand Prize Winner: Cache Allen

Ms. Holt’s class at Riverside Middle School

($300 Savings Bond and $50 Schuler Bookstore Gift Certificate)


Dr. King once said, “Life’s most urgent question is – what are you doing for others?” That question was asked because people didn’t and still don’t seem to care about others even though we share the same world. He wanted us to help each other so that each person from our community learns to have a powerful self-image inside. People who feel good about themselves are often positive role models, and end up passing the help forward.

One of those role models I learned from is Loretta Claiborne. As a child Loretta could not walk or talk. She was mentally challenged but still accomplished her dream of being a track runner. More importantly, she helped people by giving her time to the elderly, and being a role model for kids and grown-ups, too. It was difficult to grow up to be who she is now, but Dr. King would be pleased with what she was able to accomplish.

My dream to care for people is to become a doctor and to cure the sick. My role model is Dr. Ben Carson. He is an intelligent man who specializes in separating conjoined twins. These children are now happier apart. Along with being a doctor, I would like to use my large income to help the homeless. I would give them food to eat, clothes to wear, and give them extra money, so that at least can afford things to make them comfortable.

I believe that I can honor Dr. King’s memory by doing these good things as well as doing my best in school. I also believe that Dr. King’s life would have had more meaning if we all would get good educations and work together to help the world. It would honor Dr. King if we used our gifts and started to make things better in our own communities. After that our neighbors would help spread that help to more cities, then countries, and eventually it would spread over the entire world!

First Runner-Up: Miles C. Jones

Ms. Welsh’s class at C.A. Frost Middle School

($200 Savings Bond and $25 Schuler Bookstore Gift Certificate)


Dr. King decided to stick with love. He felt hate was too heavy to bear. An example of what Dr. King meant when he described hate as a heavy burden is the example of having to carry around a 70 lb. bag of potatoes everywhere you went. It would be too heavy to carry. But love isn’t like that.

Love can be heavy on your heart sometimes but it also has the ability to take away some burdens. Love helps you to become someone who doesn’t hate. This is what I’m trying to be: someone who shows and shares love and not someone who has feelings of hatred. I am the type of person who likes to know what’s coming next. I like to prepare for the future. I don’t worry about a lot of things. I look at Dr. King’s life and I wonder how he was able to deal with all of the hatred that was coming at him. What I’ve learned is that he deflected hatred with love. Dr. King had lots of things to worry about. He really couldn’t afford to take all that extra weight that comes with hatred. So he just kept it simple and just focused on love.

I think hate and discrimination still happens in our city, state, country and the world. I believe it’s because people can’t let go of the past and they hold on to grudges. Love makes you free and it helps you to let go of the things of the past that hold you back. Hate and discrimination are diseases and they can make you sick. So, I believe that when someone is sick or has a disease they need to see a doctor. I believe a doctor would give them a prescription for love because love has the power to heal.

Hate and discrimination will go away when men and women, boys and girls stop judging each other and thinking bad things about one another. Dr. King said we should be “judged by the content of our character and not by the color of our skin.” It’s up to us to make a change. Kids my age can make a difference. If I have to choose between carrying hate and carrying love, I’ll carry love any day.

Second Runner-Up: Vera Spence

Ms. Gregory’s Class at Harrison Middle School

($100 Savings Bond and $25 Schuler Bookstore Gift Certificate)


“I have a dream,” said Martin standing at the podium, sweat dripping down his forehead, the hot sun blazing on him. Everyone screaming at the top of their lungs, “YEAH!” And he gave that speech not only from a piece of paper, but from his heart. And he said,’ I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by their skin, but by the content of their character.” And I knew he meant not by their skin, but by their personality and who they are – the person that they are inside.

The content of my character is outgoing, worthy, creative, talented, trustful, filled with laughter and sorrow. I am who I am. People don’t judge me by my skin. If they did, I’d probably be a lonely girl. I’d go insane. I’d go ballistic. I’d fight for my rights, too. Like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I’d fight with peace, and not with fists. And I’d give up my life for what I believe. If they judged me by my skin, they’d miss a loving, self-confident, heart-warming girl. They’d miss my trust. They’d miss my laugh. They’d miss who I am – and what I am.

Dr. King’s dreams mostly came true because different skins join together hand-in-hand. I see little black and white girls playing jump rope and taking care of dolls. I see black and white men and women making families and loving each other – holding hands and talking. I see Asians and Mexicans walking together, talking and laughing. I see Native Americans and German hugging and crying s if they were saying goodbye forever. I see Polish and Africans dancing and playing tag.

I see the world out of my eyes and today, it’s happy. Races join together in harmony is what I see. Like me. I am a Native American girl that has Jamaican cousins and was born in Florida. I go to Harrison Park Middle and I have lots of friends who are different races. Like Kristin – she’s mixed with White, Black, Polish, German and Mexican. Or Dulce, my best friend, who is Mexican. Or Kayla – she’s white. Or Cuinasia – she’s black. Or Angelina – an Asian. And many others. I get to be friends with all races at Harrison.

I have a dream that we will all be the same.” It’s all happening, little by little, decade by decade, year by year, month by month, week by week, day by day, hour by hour and minute by minute. We’re changing all the time. So tomorrow, wake up and say, “ Thank you, Dr. King.” Because he’s the reason why you’re not judged by your skin, but by your character. I’m saved.

“I’m color blind. I do not judge people by the color of their skin, but by their hearts.”

Second Runner-Up: José Longoria

Ms. Depker’s Class at Southwest Community Campus

($100 Savings Bond and $25 Schuler Bookstore Gift Certificate)

Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968). He was the youngest man ever to earn the Nobel Peace Prize at age of 35. Dr. King’s most famous speech of all was his speech in 1963 entitled, “ I Have a Dream.”

When Dr. King was referring to the phrase “content of their character,” I believe he was referring to the identity or what makes a person special or unique. Most people would say that the content of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s character was special because he respected all men, women and children. He strongly opposed violence and believed all men and all races are created equally under the eyes of God.

I believe when people view me, I hope they see the goodness in me. I hope that they see that I am a caring and respectful person. I believe in peace in the world and for my fellow men. I hope when someone looks at the content of my character they will see that I will do anything for someone if I am able. If people would judge me just by the color of my skin, I think they are looking past the beliefs of Dr. King and not recognizing the goodness in me.

Dr. King’s dream came true for the simple fact that we have witnessed the election of our first black president, Barack Obama – and not just because he’s black, but because of how he became president. Barack Obama did not just have black voters. He had voters of many races, men and women. I believe that this one part of history shows unity in our country and gives hope that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s hard work and perseverance was not in vain.

• Central High School Mock Trial Teams Shine in Regional Competition

Central High School’s two mock trial teams, coached by Warner Norcross & Judd, competed with teams from 10 other schools yesterday in the Western Regional Michigan High School Mock Trial Tournament. 

With a 2-1 record, Central’s”A” team received an Honorable Mention award. Their only loss was to eventual winner Forest Hills Eastern, with a record of 3-0.  We believe Central’s “B” team was 1-1 going into the third round, where they faced, of all teams, Central’s “A” team!  

Madelaine Lane reports that, “The students all did a great job, especially in the last round where the two Central teams faced each other – they did an excellent job and received fantastic comments from the judges.”

Congratulations to both teams, and congratulations and thank you to the team of coaches from Warner Norcross, which included: Sarah Howard, Madelaine Lane, Inga Hofer, Scott Carvo, Jeanne Long, Joe Sadler, Julie Lam, Christine Maher, and Dan Borst.

• WNJ Prepares Central HS Mock Trial Teams

2008 Central High School Mock Trial TeamFor the third year, Warner is coaching the Grand Rapids Central High School Mock Trial team. Since November, Warner attorneys have been visiting the school to help students prepare to play the role of attorneys and witnesses in the fictional case of Young v. Gardner.

On March 7, 2009, the team will compete in the Western Regional Mock Trial Competition sponsored by the Michigan Center for Civic Education.  The event will be held at the Kent County Courthouse. With the help of coaches, Sarah Howard, Madelaine Lane, Inga Hofer, Scott Carvo, Jeanne Long, Joe Sadler, Julie Lam, Christine Maher, and Dan Borst, the students have prepared the case from start to finish. They have studied the affidavits and police reports, drafted their direct and cross-examination questions, and authored opening and closing arguments. In fact, there was so much enthusiasm in this year’s class, that Central High School has entered two teams in the competition.

As always, we hope to have a strong contingent from Warner to support the students at the competition on March 7th. If you have any questions, or are interested in helping the teams in these closing weeks, please contact Sarah Howard or Madelaine Lane.

The Michigan Center for Civic Education is looking for attorneys and paralegals to volunteer as judges and bailiff/timekeeperss in the competition.   If you are interested in volunteering, open the Volunteer Registration Form for details.  Volunteers are needed in Grand Rapids on Saturday, March 7 and Pontiac on Saturday, March 14.