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Five McKinley Receive Top Honors in MLK Commemoration Society Contests

Five students from McKinley Elementary placed in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Society’s youth art and essay contests.

For the youth art contest, students in grades K-6th were asked to create an illustration based on one of three themes that characterizes Dr. King’s life and work – love, peace, or unity – and what the theme means to them. 6th graders Rosaura Flores and Andrew Fraley received 1st and 3rd place, respectively.

For the essay contest, 6th-8th grade students were asked to write a 350-500-word essay on the topic, “I live my life as a reflection of Dr. King’s dream by…” The essays were judged based on originality, creativity, clarity, and use of facts or examples. Jesus Ayvar-Lopez earned 1st, Miguel Alcocer placed 2nd, and Roberto Martinez got 3rd.

“I really thought I wasn’t going to win. I just wrote what I learned about him,” said Jesus.

“I’m so proud of our students and grateful to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Society for recognizing our talented scholars,” said Superintendent Deborah A. Gist. “Dr. King’s life and work are powerful reminders of the difference that one person can make in our world, and it is inspiring to see our students celebrating that legacy.”

McKinley 6th graders participate in the contest every year. Their English language arts teacher Janet McCarty Smith said it is a great way for them to immerse themselves in writing, reading, and research.

“They also get to learn about a significant figure, Dr. King, and the reason why they are able to be here and be all together in one classroom in such diversity,” she said.

“He’s like a savior in a way. If it wasn’t for him, half the people in this school wouldn’t be here right now. He changed the world,” said Andrew.

Janet said her students learn about many cultures throughout the year.

“In a school where we have a diverse population, how will they get along if they don’t begin to understand each other? We talk about different cultures, we talk about our individual cultural backgrounds, where our parents are from, where we are from. We learn about Asian culture, we learn about African culture, we learn about European culture,” she said. “Our next unit in our study is Greek so we’re going to be learning about that. It just helps them to be well-rounded because that’s how the world is.”

The winning students were honored at an awards ceremony in January. For more information about the MLK Commemoration Society, click here.