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King Essay Contests Honored at School Board Meeting

The Grand Rapids Public School Board took a moment last evening to recognize the winners and honorable mention recipients in our 14th annual Martin Luther King, Jr., essay contest.  Diversity Partner Rodney Martin presented each of the winners and honorable mention recipients with a gift card to Schuler Books and Music and a certificate of participation. A personalized certificate of participation will be given to each of the more than 330 students who participated in this year’s contest.

From left to right, First Runner Up Ellouise Lambertson (John Ball Zoo School), Grand Prize winner Roz McBrier (Ridgemoor Park Montessori), and Second Runner Up Henry Robinette (North Park Montessori)

 

The MLK Essay Contest winners and honorable mention recipients who attended the Board of Education meeting.

 

The winning essays are posted here.

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.

This Year’s Winning Authors in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest

The winners and honorable mention recipients in the 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., essay contest for sixth graders in the Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Last evening, Diversity Partner Rodney Martin had the honor of presenting the winners of the firm’s 13th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., essay contest to the Grand Rapids Board of Education. The Grand Prize Winner, R’Mani Belcher, of Riverside Middle School, the First Runner Up, Alayne Anderson, of the Center for Economicology, and the Second Runner Up, Sha’Myah Dixon, also of Riverside Middle School, each read their winning essays at the meeting. In addition, Mr. Martin presented 23 students with certificates of honorable mention and gift cards to Schuler Books and Music.  The essay contest drew 342 essay submissions by students from 16 different schools in the Grand Rapids Public Schools Systems.  You can read the winner essays here.

 

R’mani Belcher, Riverside Middle School, Grand Prize Winner, Sha’Myah Dixon, Riverside Middle School, Second Runner-up, and Alayne Anderson, Center for Economicology, First Runner-up

MLK Essay Contest Winners Recognized by the Grand Rapids Board of Education

Last evening, the Grand Rapids Board of Education recognized the winners and honorable mention recipients in this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest.  Rodney Martin, the firm’s Diversity Partner, introduced the winners, who each had an opportunity to read their essay during the public meeting.  Mr. Martin then introduced each of the 24 honorable mention recipients, who came forward to receive their awards.  You can read the winning essays here.

This was the 12th year that Warner Norcross & Judd has conducted the essay contest for sixth graders in the Grand Rapids Public Schools.  Over 300 students from 12 different middle schools submitted essays that responded to one of three prompts concerning the legacy of  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The essays were read and judged by over 50 attorneys and staff members at Warner.  Here are photos of the winners, and the honorable mention recipients.

The Winners of the 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest (left to right): Tess Cepaitis, Grand Prize, Riverside Middle School; Myaja Dunning, 1st Runner Up, Gerald R. Ford Academic Center; and Carmen Perdomo, 2nd Runner Up, Southwest Community Campus

The Winners of the 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest (left to right): Tess Cepaitis, Grand Prize, Riverside Middle School; Myaja Dunning, 1st Runner Up, Gerald R. Ford Academic Center; and Carmen Perdomo, 2nd Runner Up, Southwest Community Campus

The winners and honorable mention recipients in the 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest.

The winners and honorable mention recipients in the 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest.

Warner Norcross Announces Winners of MLK Essay Contest

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a major impact on the lives of many and his legacy still rings true today. This year, Warner Judd Norcross LLP asked sixth grade students in Grand Rapids to enter an essay contest to discuss the lasting impacts of his legacy. Now in its 12th year, the contest asks students to explore the work of Dr. King. Students wrote about the impact he had on equal rights in society, a conversation they would have with Dr. King or the impact of one of his many famous quotes has had on their lives. The competition is open to all sixth graders in the Grand Rapids Public Schools district.

This year the firm received 314 essay submissions from 10 different schools. 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.

This year’s winners are:

  • Tess Cepaitis, Riverside Middle School, Grand Prize
  • Myaja Dunning, Gerald R. Ford Academic Center, First Runner-Up
  • Carmen Perdomo, Southwest Community Center, Second Runner-Up

Each winning student will receive a a gift card to Schuler Books and Music.  Additionally, 24 students from seven schools received honorable mention recognition. They each will receive a gift card to Schuler Books and Music. Every student who submitted an essay will receive a certificate of participation.Cepaitis and all winners are invited to attend the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Program held Jan. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Fountain Street Church. All winners will be recognized by their peers and parents and listen to Cepaitis read her winning essay.

The grand prize winner and, if time permits, the two runners-up will be given an opportunity to read their essays at the GRPS Board of Education meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20. Warner Norcross Diversity Partner Rodney Martin will be in attendance at both programs to introduce the winners.

Here are the winning essays:

Grand Prize Winner

 Tess Cepaitis

Riverside Middle School

Ms. Holt’s Sixth Grade Class

“Silence”

 Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 This quote has had an impact on my life as well as on the lives of others. Kids in school struggle with this situation as well as adults in society where witnesses to crimes and other bad things stay silent out of fear. Most people would like to step up and do the right thing, but they are afraid. We need to get some guts and do what Dr. King suggested.

I remember a time when I stayed silent. It was a gloomy day when I was in the third grade. We had gone outside for recess, and the snow was covering the wood chips and play things. A quiet girl sat on the cold swings a couple of yards from me as I was making a snow angel. A boy ran over to the girl demanding that she give up her swing. She refused, quietly telling him there were lots of swings open. He pushed her off the swing into the snow. She stood up and her pants were soaked. The girl tried to wipe the slushy snow from her pants, I don’t know why, but I just went to the other side of the playground and kept making snow angels. After the lunch bell rang, I just walked back into the building and left her standing there all miserable and cold. The whole time I was thinking, You should have done something! You should have helped her! But I did nothing.

Ever since that day, the experience has haunted me. I still feel the same shame I did then when I remained quiet. Now I try to speak up for what is right and stop things like this at school, at the park, and everywhere I go. I now realize that I need to stop a bully’s tauntings right as they start instead of silently letting them happen. Every word we speak or don’t speak can make an impact. Dr. King tried to tell us that, and finally, I am listening.

 

1st Runner Up

Myaja Dunning

Gerald R. Ford Academic Center

Mr. Gleason’s Sixth Grade Class

 “The Quote I Like the Most”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” This is my favorite quote from MLK because it really spoke to me. It told me that if a person says something mean to me, they are just bringing darkness. But if you say something back to them you are bringing more darkness. It’s like the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.”

This quote makes a positive difference in my life because I used to get called mean names all the time. I don’t let that bother me because I’m not going to hold a grudge or bring darkness into the problem. The only way you can bring light into the problem is if you bring light and positivity into the problem. This quote helps me make a positive difference in the lives of my family and friends by encouraging me to be positive as much as possible. There are times when I may disagree with someone close to me, but that does not mean I have to be negative or dark about the situation. Reflecting on this quote encourages me to think positively about the situation, even if it may not be in my favor. It’s important to think about, and to consider, other peoples’ points of view, as it shows that you embrace diversity of thought.

Negativity breeds negativity, which is why it’s so important to be a beacon of light, positivity, and love through all circumstances. People tend to feel and feed off of positive energy. If more people can change their attitudes toward more positive thoughts, the world would be on track to become a better place, just as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned it.

In an effort to make the world a better place, we should aim to drive out hate by filtering in positivity and love. Dr. King said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” I think people can look up to this quote.

 

2nd Runner Up

Carmen Perdomo

Southwest Community Campus

Ms. Quinlan’s Sixth Grade Class

“Judge Yourself First”

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a civil rights activist who believed in equal rights for all. He changed American History

I believe in equal rights. I believe that everyone deserves equality regardless of the color of their skin, the place they are from or the things they believe in. I know it is difficult for certain people to believe in equal rights, but I have a few things to say that just might make them change their minds.

It’s important for people to have equal rights regardless of race, color or beliefs because equality is freedom. Free of worry, free to travel and free to be whom you are when it comes to your beliefs. Being free is important; equal rights make you free.

It’s difficult for certain people to believe in equal rights. For example, some Americans believe if you aren’t from America you don’t have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Why does where we are born change the word ‘equal’ to ‘unequal’? I believe these people are wrong. The places we are or where we were in the past may define culture and traditions, but they don’t define our character. We all have hearts and care; that makes every single human being equal.

I would say the following to someone who doesn’t believe in equal rights: I think you may not believe in equal rights because of how the world is separated into different places. You may think all of the different places people come from means they are different. Like maybe you think they have different hearts, different ways to show kindness and different minds. It doesn’t. No matter our color, race or believes we are all the same. Human.

At the end of the day, regardless of race, color or beliefs, we all are the same. Nothing else but our character tells us who we are as people. If you’re going to judge, quietly judge yourself. Judging is a sign of lack of character. Be friendly, be nice, be peaceful, be willing, be someone who believes in equal rights.

I leave you to think about the following quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.:

I look to the day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

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.