Students Honored at 20th Annual MLK Day Program

Students Share Words of Wisdom at 20th Annual MLK Day Program
Posted on 01/25/2019
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Student winners of MLK Day 2019 student contest pose on stage after program“The common ground is that we are all Americans. The human pyramid is a reminder that we are one. It doesn’t matter what you look like. You are an important piece of the pyramid. If one falls, we all fall, but if we stand strong together, we can do anything together.”

These were the words of Wyandot Early Childhood School first-grader Nicci Back, as she explained her winning painting in this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. student writing and art contest. Her painting depicted a human pyramid in front of a U.S. flag.

“I want to thank all of our students, both on stage and out in our audience, who took the initiative to submit an entry,” said Lakota Superintendent Matthew Miller, who introduced the winners at the 20th annual “Live the Dream: Our Declaration of Unity” West Chester Liberty MLK Day community celebration. “Your words are full of wisdom and inspire us all.”

Back was one of 19 Lakota students who shared their work with hundreds of community members joining the Jan. 21 celebration at Lakota West High School, following a “March for Unity” that started at Union Centre Square. The students were honored for their responses to this year’s contest prompt: “In a world that is divided and polarized in so many ways, where do we find the common ground for unity so that everyone can learn to appreciate our differences and peacefully coexist?”

“We need to start looking past people’s differences and begin looking at how similar we all are. This can only happen if we work together trying to make our world a better place,” wrote Hopewell Junior eighth-grader Helen Chuc, challenging her audience to “be the change you want to see in the world.”

“People are afraid of the unknown and this fear may make them judge others unfairly. If we work to educate everyone, maybe they won’t be so afraid of things that are different,” suggested Hopewell Junior eighth-grader Elena Prows in her winning essay.

Every year, in preparation for our community’s celebration of MLK Day, all Lakota students are invited to participate in a contest that promotes self-reflection about diversity and inclusion in our community and nationwide. Nearly 500 pieces were submitted this year, with all of them now on display at different Lakota schools.

“The MLK Day event is special to our community because it is a celebration of what we have accomplished toward racial unity thus far, even as we recognize that we still have quite a ways to go. It is exciting to see so many facets of the community work together for a common purpose,” said Gail Webster, who has served as the MLK Day committee chair since she introduced it 20 years ago. Giving credit to the many hands that make it all possible, she describes it as a “labor of love.”

The West Chester Liberty Chamber Alliance, led by President Joe Hinson, made a surprise appearance on stage at the end of the program to recognize Webster’s commitment to a program that “is envied by so many other local communities.”

Click here to watch a video from the MLK Day program, produced by West Chester Township.

This year's student winners include: 

Grand Prize

  • Gabrielle Wynn, Hopewell Junior (8th grade)  

Early Childhood

  • Early Childhood Overall: Nicci Back, Wyandot ECS (1st grade)


  • Elementary Overall: Kaleb Watts, Independence Elementary (6th grade)
  • Elementary English Language Learner: Sonita Sambo: Woodland Elementary (3rd grade)
  • Elementary Special Recognition: Ethan Gaddis, Independence Elementary (6th grade)
  • Elementary Fine Arts: Lorelei Choate, Daisy Schaefer, Arianna Strunk and Proshi Vatsal, Freedom Elementary (6th grade)

Junior High

  • Junior High: Mehack Bakali, Hopewell Junior (8th grade)
  • Junior High English Language Learner: Helen Chuc, Hopewell Junior (8th grade)
  • Junior High Special Recognition: Elena Prows, Hopewell Junior (8th grade)
  • Junior High Fine Arts: Jaryon Hill and Jaila Robinson, Hopewell Junior (8th grade)

High School

  • High School: Emily Lin, Lakota East Freshman (9th grade)
  • High School Fine Arts: Haley Schwarz, Lakota West High School (11th grade)