Hazelwood Students Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Winners to receive $100 savings bonds and present oratories at MLK Celebration
On Saturday, two brave and very proud Hazelwood residents, that were selected out of more than 90 entries, participated in an essay contest honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The girls, Halley Stein, a fourth-grader at McNair Elementary, and third-grader Molly Prescott of Russell Elementary, stood in front of proud teachers, parents, siblings and friends, along with five other contestants from the Hazelwood School District, and read their oratories aloud, before a panel of six judges at John Knox Presbyterian Church.
"He made the world a better place," Halley told Patch of her reason for basing her essay on MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech. "His dream was for black and white people to become one, and his dream is coming true!"
North County Churches Uniting for Racial Harmony and Justice (NCCU) sponsors the contest each year. Of the 17 finalists present on Saturday, five winners will be chosen to present their oratories at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley on Jan. 16. In addition, each of the student winners will receive a $100 savings bond.
Halley said she was experiencing a combination of feelings before she took the stage, but felt somewhere between excited and nervous.
"I have all of the information stored in my head," she said with a confident grin.
Halley's mother, Tracy Stein, said she couldn't be more proud of her daughter.
"It was not required that students enter this contest," Stein said. "It was by choice that Halley worked hard to put this essay together, and that makes me proud."
Molly took a different approach for her essay. Instead of basing it on a MLK essay, she said her essay was based on a principle-standing up for what you believe in.
"It's important to stand up for what's right, and to do it without violence just like Martin Luther King did," Molly said.
She also wrote about other historical figures from the Underground Railroad to the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements of the '50s and '60s. She said she admired leaders such as Harriet Tubman. Dianne Prescott, Molly's mother, said she was very excited about her daughter's essay.
"I'm so proud of her and I'm excited that she got this far," she said. "But even if she doesn't win, she is still a winner in our eyes."
Prescott added that her older son, now in fifth-grade, won a savings bond for his Martin Luther King, Jr., essay when he was in second-grade.
"Maybe we'll carry on the family tradition," Dianne joked.
The judges utilized a scoring guide to evaluate each student's presentation for a possible total of 4 points. Accumulative points were based on the speaker ability to respond and interact appropriately with the audience. The student was expected to maintain eye contact with the audience, display confident body language, use appropriate gestures to support his/her speech, maintain focus, and speak clear and audibly.
Dr. King is possibly best known for his "I Had a Dream" speech. What would serve to be an ironic, yet powerful line not long after his speech was, "I may not get there with you." Sadly, King did not live to see just how many would be touched and motivated by his words. But on Saturday—in a church auditorium filled with children of different races and ethnic backgrounds, all of whom spoke of their passion for equality and peace—a small yet very powerful piece of King's dream did indeed come true.
Stay tuned for the contest results on Hazelwood Patch's web site, and be sure to come celebrate Dr. King's memory at the the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration at 3pm in the Terry M. Fischer Theatre at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley on Jan. 16. The public is invited to the celebration.