Archive for January 2013

WNJ Essay Contest Winner Published as Guest Column in the Grand Rapids Press

Daijon Miller, the sixth grader at the Riverside Middle School in Grand Rapids who is the Grand Prize winner in Warner’s eighth annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest, was honored by the Grand Rapids Press today by publishing his essay as today’s Guest Column.

Guest Column

Announcing the Winners of the 8th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest

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

The contest, which was open to all Grand Rapids Public Schools’ sixth-graders, 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. Over 250 students participated in this year’s competition.

The Winners of the 2013 Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest are:

  • Daijon Miller, Riverside Middle School, Grand Prize
  • Tyevon Williams, Riverside Middle School, First Runner Up
  • Rashon Adams, Alger Middle School, Second Runner Up

Each winning student will receive a certificate of deposit and a gift card to a local bookstore. Additionally, 21 students received an honorable mention and will receive a gift card to a local bookstore. All participating students will receive a personalized certificate of completion.

Daijon Miller has been invited to read his essay at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Community Peace Program on Monday, Jan. 21 at 12:30 p.m. (following the Community Peace March) and again at the Annual Celebration program that evening at 6 p.m. Both events will be held at the Grand Rapids Community College Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse.

All winners and honorable mentions are invited to attend both events and will be recognized as a group. The winners and honorable mention recipients will be recognized by the Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 4.

Here are the winning essays.


Riverside Middle School, Ms. Emily Holt, Teacher

My Teacher Role Model

             Dr. King was a hero and a role model to me almost my whole life. I respect that during this life he was insulted and didn’t say anything back. He was beaten, stabbed, and jailed around thirty times and he never thought of suing or hitting anyone. If that would’ve been me, I would do anything I could to get back at them. I guess non-violence is one of the many traits it takes to be a hero. Heroes also need to be helpful, have great ideas, and they need to put others before themselves.

My personal role model is Mr. Cook, my 4th grade teacher before I moved. He was a very nice man and a good teacher, too. He inspired me to do a program to help other students. I had lots of fun doing it, and I learned about myself along the way. During school time he paired me up with some struggling students who needed help with math. I understand math pretty well so I could help them with their homework and class assignments. I also helped them during electives and at LOOP after school.

He taught me more than just school subjects. He taught all of us the way we treat others is just as important as what we learn in books. One of the strategies he taught me on how to control my anger was that when people try to fight me I should close my eyes and count to three. When I opened my eyes I was supposed to be calm enough to say I won’t fight. The first time that I tried that I got punched in the stomach! On the flipside, the kid trying to fight me got suspended and I got to stay in school. It turned out Mr. Cook’s trick did some good since I didn’t get in any trouble at all!

The sad thing is that my hero is no longer here. Mr. Cook passed away last year. When I heard that, it made me want to honor his memory and be a better person. Now I try to remember what Mr. Cook taught me and control my anger even more. I haven’t fought anybody since 4th grade. He’d taught me lots of stuff but that the most important thing was to control my anger.

Heroes are against violence, heroes make great leaders and teachers, and heroes always find themselves in the role of helping others. I guess Dr. King and Mr. Cook have the qualities that make great heroes. There are lots of outstanding role models in the world, and I’m happy to have known Mr. Cook as one of those many great role models.


Riverside Middle School, Ms. Emily Holt, Teacher

Ordinary Heroes

             Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a history maker and a hero to other people and to me. Heroes to me are the ones who take risks for others, and who always think of themselves last. They come from many different walks of life and can be just about anybody. Dr. King lived his whole life unselfishly, and he always seemed to put his life in danger. He got so many death threats that he got pretty used to them. He always responded with non-violence and encouraged others to try to change their world through peaceful protests.

More recently, firefighters, police and ambulance drivers picked up the call. On 9/11, 2001, some first responders helped the people in the TwinTowers in New York City. That day they showed me what true heroes are made of. Those first responders showed me that true heroes don’t think of themselves first. They just naturally think of other people that are in need first. When the TwinTowers were about to fall, every human being in America wanted to help. Thank goodness those heroic first responders were there and willingly put their lives on the line to help. Sometimes situations make the hero in people come out. Heroes like these stepped up just like Dr. King would have.

Learning about what these people did impacted me a lot and made me want to be a better person. I don’t know if I would have the guts to go in to a burning tower, but just thinking about it makes me want to be a policemen or a fireman. Before I get old enough for those jobs, I can start small. If someone falls I’ll help them get back up on their feet. In my school I could help people try to open their lockers because I’m good at working combinations! At home I could help my sister, Deija with her Spanish homework. This is kind of heroic because she’s in high school, and I’m only in middle school.

I think Dr. King would want all the heroes who died on 9/11 to be remembered as inspirers. I think Dr. King was so unselfish and forgiving, and he wanted to help people just like those first responders from 9/11, 2011. Dr. King would want to say to me, “You can be who ever you want to be, you can make the world better, you can inspire others!”


Alger Middle School

My Hero

             When I think of a hero I think of Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King is my hero because he was a very determined person who fought for equal rights. He wanted everyone to be treated fairly no matter what the color of your skin was, or what race you were. My Uncle Jamel reminds me of Martin Luther King because he was respectful, went to college, and has a nice job, home and family. And he loves basketball just like I do.

My Uncle Jamel is a great role model to me because he did what I’ve always wanted to do when I get older, and that is play basketball. My Uncle Jamel was very determined to play basketball when he was in school. Even though he didn’t make it to the NBA, he is still very successful and still plays basketball during his free time. Jamel also coaches youth basketball for the AAU basketball league. His team went undefeated and won the national championship, and as a result of being a great role model and possessing a great character, he has made me a better person.

My Uncle Jamel has made me a better person because he encourages me to keep my grades up in school and stay in sports, and stay active. He also encourages me to go to college and play a sport that I like and someday I might be a professional at it. My Uncle Jamel went to MichiganStateUniversity. He didn’t play basketball in college a lot, but he was still very good at it. My Uncle Jamel even had a chance to go to the NBA and play for the Detroit Pistons, but he decided to stay home and take care of his mother, who eventually died from a heart attack.

My Uncle Jamel also has great characteristics. He respects all of his teachers and friends who helped him when he was in college, high school, and even elementary. Everyone knew that Jamel was a great person and also possessed great characteristics. He never got frustrated at the refs or his coaches when he was in a game. He was always a leader and a role model to the players on his team and other people around him.

That’s why both my Uncle Jamel and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are both my role models, and they both make me want to be a better person and accomplish some of the things they’ve accomplished. When I think of a role model I think of Martin Luther King Jr. and my Uncle Jamel! They are my role models. Who are yours?