Two 5th graders from each school were recognized by the School Committee Tuesday as winners of this year’s World of Wellesley (WOW) essay contest, a part of the elementary curriculum in which every student writes about racial or cultural inequality.
“The essays really were amazing and inspiring,” said WOW board member Michelle Chalmers who read essays from students at .
She said one of the essays she chose for acknowledgement was about Jackie Robinson, the first African-American player in Major League Baseball.
She said the student wrote about how Robinson, in the face off discrimination and harassment, played baseball peacefully, showing grace on the field rather than resorting to violence.
Another winning essay, the said, was from a student who wrote about wanting to start a book club to get groups together to talk about issues that divide them.
“It gave me goosebumps,” she said. “These kids get it. They understand that the only way to find peace in this world is through love and respect for one another.”
WOW started the essay contest 18 years ago, and since then it has evolved from a voluntary community activity to a part of the curriculum in which every student much write an essay, story, poem or personal narrative.
Students this year were assigned three different “writing prompts” around which they could frame their writing.
In the first prompt, students could write about a situation in which they have heard or witnessed a cultural or racial criticism used against them or another person. They are then asked, “How did you feel? What did you do or wish you had done? Did the situation resolve itself as your wanted it to?”
The second option was to read a fiction or non-fiction book about someone from a different racial or cultural background and write about it. “What did you learn? How does it affect your thinking?” they were asked.
And the third option was to learn about an activist for racial or cultural equality and write about that, answering the questions, “What did you learn? What are actions you can take to promote racial and cultural equality?”
“This is one of our best experiences. It’s a highlight of our endeavors with the town,” WOW Chairman Richard McGhee said.
The year’s essay winners are:
From : Thomas West and Ryan Sullivan
From : Carolyn Hale and Catie Jones
From : Emily Meng and Millie Nathan
From : Abel Sanchez and Sarah Ebell
From : Giselle Garcia and Julia Oktay
From Sprague: Thomas Gartley and Julia Jones
From : Cameron Cobey and Matthew Long