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Contests closed. Next year's will begin October 15, 2020.

Who is eligible? All students in Southern Denton County in 4th-12th grade.

What are prize amounts? Prizes will range between $25-$150. 

Where do I send my entry? LISD offices, your teacher will arrange.

What should I title my work? One Human Family: A Positive Vision for 2020 and Beyond.


It should explore how Dr. King’s ideals, philosophy, and principles as they apply to our lives.


Requirements: All typed essays must be original and use this year’s theme as the title. It should explore Dr. King’s ideals, philosophy, and principles. It should not be about the Civil Rights history and should use quotations rarely. 

Full Name (w/phonetic pronunciation), phone, email, grade, school, and teacher’s name must be written on a separate cover sheet.

Teachers: Please select the top 10 per class that meet word-count criteria to send to us.  

Grades 4-5 – 200-300 words
Grades 6-8 – 300-500 words
Grades 9-12 – 500-800 words



R U interested in learning more?
WNINNERS of MLK 2018-2019 Essay Contest

Grade 4
1. Maryam Amatul Aziz - Castle Hills, Ms. Buell
"Martin Luther King's philosophy contributed tremendously in shaping world peace. His message about Love, Peace and brotherhood is going to echo forever. He is that great hero who will live in our hearts forever."

2. Ava Biggins - Prairie Trail, Mr. Clayton/Ms. Parker
 "He spoke for the voiceless and gave hope for equality. Martin loved diversity and he wanted us to celebrate our differences."

3. Elizabeth Daiva - Old Settlers - Ms. Young
"Just as a bouquet of different flowers is beautiful with different colors even so there is much beauty in diversity."

Grade 5
1. Mia Susan McKenna - B.B. Owen, Miss Wheat
"Due to the sacrifice of Dr. King we have a world, that while isn't perfect, is much better than it was. As a student I am able to experience the different cultures of my classmates and my teachers."

2. Nia Lakhani - Coyote Ridge Elementary, Mrs. Duban
"We should always respect each other and love the diversity in our world by treating everyone equally."

3. Claire Olivia Skelton - McAuliffe, Mrs. Burton 
"I love that I can talk to and be friends with any person I want to without having to worry about their skin color, their beliefs, their looks, or even their families."

Grade 6
1. Noorain Aziz, Killian, Mrs. Cordell
We are wonderful because we are different from one another...Dr. King started a spark that would lead to the fire of people all around the world standing up for equality. He permanently left a mark in history that pressed equality in the minds of young and old everywhere. He taught us that no matter what age race, sex or religion, we should love each other, cherish each other and seek to understand each other. We should all realize that the most wonderful thing about humanity is that we are all different from one another. The important lesson that Martin Luther King taught us is that we should love the diversity in our world. It’s what makes us humans, and what makes us perfect.

2. Ava Linton, Briarhill, Mrs. Oliver

We need the unique talents and ideas of all people to make the world beautiful, just like artists need many colors to make a beautiful painting. An artist does not paint with only one color. The artist creates a blend of green, orange, black and yellow which turns into a breathtaking work of art. Only by using different colors can the artist make the painting interesting. Our work is much more interesting with diverse groups of people.

3. Arav Sawhney, McKamy, Ms. Edge

We should work hard to achieve our goal of a more accepting world. As we reflect on what Dr. King means to us, it is important that we adopt his hopeful attitude and use it to encourage our peers and ourselves to remain hopeful and dedicated to ensuring that all men and women of this country, no matter their differences, experience life-long equality.

Grade 7

1. Erik Soelberg, Downing, Mrs. Phan
If we gave everybody a chance in life, the strength in love and cooperation would put the world in a better place, not just for now, but for many years in the future. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to the Earth to spread the message that everybody is equal and should be loved. He showed love in the way it should be, with peace and happiness. …Everyone is structured in a different, unique way to love each other in the very diverse world that we live in. 

2. Lillian Shai Cassady, Griffin, Ms. Hendrix
Today, even though we have equality in America for people of all races, personalities, religions, etc., there are still people who abuse people that are different than them. …We need to show love to those who are different than us. America is the melting pot of cultures. America shows that it is possible to accept and love the diversity in our world. Personally, I don’t just love the diversity of our world, I find it fascinating. I have learned about many different cultures all around the world. …My mission is to show love to the people who may not be the same as me. You can, too. 

3. Tatyana Panchishna, McKamy, Mrs. Warriner
Dr. King was one of the most influential figures in helping all cultures in the United States learn to accept one another. …The lasting legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. has impacted the world more than he could have ever imagined, changing our attitudes towards equality for the better. The love of diversity that this world has is evident in many aspects of my life. …On my swim team, there are many different people with very diverse backgrounds and there is respect and love for every single one of them. …Each day, I see diversity in school and on my swim team and the love that is included is all in thanks to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Grade 8
1. Tina Luo, McKamy, Ms. Miller
At the age of five, we merrily skipped along the playground with smiles of joy radiating from our faces, hands intertwined in a beautiful rainbow. Our eyes did not peer through the lens of vicious judgement and bitter hatred. As days morphed into years, society slithered its way into our heads, infiltrating our minds with thoughts insisting that certain colors of our rainbow possessed more beauty and value than others. Our contrasts transformed into walls of division that forced us further and further apart. Dr. King envisioned a world where the love of individuals for one another transcended all boundaries, including ethnicity and religion. Dr. King dreamt of a world where these differences were celebrated, and his legacy rests in our hands to preserve and transform into our reality. Today, a decision of paramount importance exists before all of us: degrade others for their individuality or love the diversity in our world. As Dr. King expressed, we must not only accept, but love diversity, for it is our unique identities that unite to form a world of life and enthusiasm. With a palette of multiple colors, an artist can forge a vibrant and unparalleled masterpiece by utilizing the potential of several colors and blending them together to create new tones and hues. From the colors of our skin to the ideology in our hearts, Dr. King realized that we must love the diversity in our world, for all individuals are special in their own right. Furthermore, Dr. King advocated for equality amongst all, in which everyone treats others with love and respect regardless of physical differences and internal beliefs. In his words, we, as the people of today and tomorrow, must choose to infuse love into our world in order to live in harmony with one another. Diversity stands as a gate, not a barrier, to love streaming through. While we leave our impact on the world, we must remember Dr. King and his dream for an inclusive, culturally diverse world. Each and every individual must search past the surface and love the diversity around them. Together, we can live in harmony, standing proudly upon our magnificent rainbow as it sings to the deepest of oceans and the highest of skyscrapers, beaming with gratification at Dr. King's fulfilled dream. 

2. Ji Hoon William Yoon, Downing, Ms. Wittnauer
Throughout history, there is one thing that humans were never able to completely obtain and that is unity. There are many powerful, influential figures who have worked towards bringing us together and have impacted society, but in the end, they all failed. Sojourner Truth, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., are renowned as the most influential people in the fight for human rights, but although they contributed to the cause, they could not bring true unification to the nation, and the question is "Why?" It was because the nation itself obstinately refused to change its ideals and was unable to fully cast away its prejudice towards others, whether it is because of race, looks, intelligence, or skin color. However, this doesn't make unity impossible. Despite our shortcomings, if we make the effort to extend our hand out to others and love them as one of our own, then we can achieve the goal of truly unifying the human race as one community.
Most people already have it [unity] to some extent. They are already in harmony with their family and friends. All they have to do now is to embrace their unity and nurture their relationships. In fact, countless individuals are also one with people that they don't even know. They are tied together by hope, religion, race and language all across the globe. However, there are many people who would rather discriminate against others and put them down rather than extending out a hand to others. Many of us could choose to help others but our prideful, prejudiced minds refuse to change regardless of the situation. Due to this, our nation is not in peace. However, we can help others who are lost in the sea of hatred and despair by simply extending out a helpful hand towards them and unifying with them. In conclusion, since humans are prideful and prejudiced in nature, we may never be able to truly unite together as one nation, but we can still try to unify with others and become the change in their lives. 

3. Aishwarya Aby, Creek Valley, Ms. Nguyen
To me, diversity means having love, respect, and showing harmony towards those who I don't know and those who are different from me. Educating others about the differences among us will ultimately shed light where there would otherwise be the darkness of ignorance. As an Indian girl, I learned to be grateful of my culture rather than be ashamed. There are so many traditions and holidays that have shaped me into who I am today. I do Bharatanatyam, which is a classical Indian dance that I have been learning since I could walk. It is who I am and I'm not afraid to show and teach others about it anymore because I know people will appreciate it and support me. I take every opportunity I can to introduce others to Bharatnatyam. My church offers a Bollywood class that anyone of any ages can attend. My friends and I usually lead the sessions, and we bring Indian food, clothes, and many more. Sharing our culture with others is not only rewarding but necessary.
I look around at school and I realize how diverse my school is and how much I adore it. Rather than discrimination of diversity, our school embraces and loves it. Annually, our NJHS hosts Multicultural Night in which the NJHS students volunteer and set up booths and performances for the whole school and parents to enjoy. No matter what the year, I always went home learning something new. I love learning about others because that is what makes life exciting and adds dimensions of color and light to our world. Martin Luther King Jr. disapproved of segregation and fought for colored peoples' rights peacefully. Gandhi led India into independence and inspired peaceful protest all around the world. Differences used to be something people felt was a burden and tried to hide away. Nowadays, differences are accepted, acknowledged, and appreciated. I believe Dr. King’s dream is very much alive and well today.

Grade 9
1. Sophia Sutherland, Harmon9, Mr. Boyle
Our world is definitely one-of-a-kind. We are humans with abstract minds, yet we tend to forget that. If there were no diversity and we were all the same, our world would be monochromatic, and our self-expression would be idle.
We need newness and variation to create development. What purpose would we serve, if there is nothing more to create, or to give to the world? Once our expression is pushed away by continuous copies, what else can we do for each other, and ourselves?
The acceptance and appreciation of diversity is beautiful. Learning and experiencing new things should be a part of everyday life, and without diversity, we wouldn't have that. We are able to dive deeper into the wonders of the world, the new discoveries, and form relationships with people of one-of-a-kind minds. Each person you pass has their own stories, morals, appearance, and each has their own complex brain. There is much to discover, and there is much to love and grasp.
At the end of the day, it is a miracle for us to be alive at all. The thought of existing is beautiful in itself and we let that fly over our heads every day. Do not let the routine of life let you forget how vast the world is, and how much there is to love, and discover.  

2. Samantha Lopez, FMHS9, Ms. Harper
Nature gives us the best example of diversity: diversity of the species, diversity of the ecosystems, diversity of the genes and beyond. Yet every living organism in its own is unique and that makes our world so special. The pilot fish needs the shark and the shark needs the pilot fish. And we humans can't survive either without this diversity in the world. The beauty of it all is that diversity is beyond the human race. In order for the human race to prosper in great strides, we need racial diversity, thinking diversity, religious diversity, and more. 
Dr. King wanted racial equality so much that he was willing to put his own life in danger. When we look at the effects he has brought, we know how momentous his existence was. Without him, separate but equal would still be in American society today. There would be separate water fountains. There would be redlining. America would be a different nation. The Declaration of Independence's unalienable rights and the idea that "all men are created equal" would not exist. What then would happen to the American Dream? 
Although Martin Luther King Jr. led great strides toward equality, there is still work to be done. We cannot settle until "justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." We will not settle until redlining stops. We will not settle until there exists no wage gap. If we can learn to embrace each other without exception, we can follow in King's footsteps. We are all the same species and it's time we treat each other like we are. It's time we got over our differences and embrace them. Get involved in your community. Learn about other cultures and your own. Reach out and volunteer. Get out of your comfort zone. Be the change you want to see. 

3. Gabriella Morrison, Harmon9, Mr. Boyle
I am a living, breathing example of diversity. I am made up of a bloodline of African Americans, American Indians, and Creoles. I am the descendant of former slaves, ancient Indian chiefs, and Creoles who cook my now-favorite dishes. Every part intertwines and what do you get? Me. As a matter a fact, there is no one else like me. I'm original. When I look at my classroom, I see people who have come from all over the world. We all have different experiences, different lives. And yet, one thing that we all have in common is diversity. We love our diversity. It makes us who we are, who we want to be, and who we're going to be. 
One particular person we were blessed with was Martin Luther King Jr. Even though we lost him, he has touched our hearts. His ideas, principles, and beliefs helped guide him through life, and will continue to light the way for many others. He fought and spoke his mind about racism, oppression, and segregation. I know that even though we all come from different places around the world, we are all on the face of the earth together. Being made up of a variety of cultures doesn't mean we can't work together. It means we can come as one and help each other out. I'm not the only person who is diverse. There are millions of people made up of different cultures. We are everywhere you turn. We see things differently. We are the ones that have and will change the world because of our point of views. We see the world the way others don't. Embracing diversity is what we need. Embracing diversity gives us life.

Grade 10
1. Sang Bik Thang, Harmon, Ms. Antoine
All living things are a part of God's amazing drawing. God specifically made birds different from fishes so that when one looked at the sky where the birds flew, he would see the goodness of God and when one looked at the ocean, where the fishes swam, he would see the goodness of God. In all aspects of life, it's evident that there is a purpose for why everything is the way it is. So I ask you, why it is so hard for one to appreciate this diversity? See, no matter what religion, race, or gender one is, at the end of the day we are all humans. We should all relish the uniqueness of every single person on Earth as part of the bright and vivid picture of life on Earth. So, for one to truly win the many battles of life, one must be equipped with the utmost wisdom that derives from the acceptance of diversity, and that he alone is not tenacious enough to defeat the beast that lies within all the hardships of life.
Over eight billion people live on Earth, each one unique in his or her own way. No two beings are exactly the same, as each and every one differs in the composition of their characteristics or physical features. So living in a world where no one is exactly the same, why should one create a physical barrier that ultimately separates him from the rest of society? Look at all the religions in the world, no matter what religion it is they are all harmonic in their stands for peace...
Even on a smaller scale, it is evident that one cannot go on nor succeed in life without the help of others. Take a look at all the successful people of today. On their way to fame, other people someway or somehow contributed. Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the most famous and wealthiest footballer on the planet, came from one of the poorest neighborhoods in Madeira, Portugal. He lacked a lot of the resources that others had but took advantage of any help that he could get. He eventually earned the opportunity to play for a youth team. Ronaldo did so well that he had to leave his home to play in the capital city of Lisbon. However, adapting to the city life and culture was very hard for Ronaldo as he would often cry when he talked to his mother. In this harsh time, Ronaldo had a friend by the name of Fabio Ferreira, who encouraged him and gave him a shoulder to lean on. Later, Ronaldo would join Real Madrid for a world record transfer fee of a hundred million dollars. See, although there surely was some talent and true dedication involved in the making of Ronaldo, it is very possible that he might not have overcome these obstacles or be in the position that he is in without the help of his friend. It's true that one person can't help everybody, but everybody can help one person.
In life, people come and go. The love and the relationships we build are the only things that are left to us in memory, so why not build a house full of memories with the people around us no matter who they are or what they are. Everyone's destined to die. We all want to live a lucrative and jocund life, but if one goes around all day complaining about his differences or the disparity of others, the Sun will set before he could ever accomplish his goals in life. So, for one to truly understand the purpose of life, one must have the acceptance and understanding of others which lays deep in the heart of diversity. Learn to appreciate other people and the unique things they bring to the table. Trust me, you'll be more content with life in general, but if, and only if, you break the physical barrier that segregates humanity.

2. Sammi Kwon, Hebron, Ms. Bertrand
To define diversity in our world, we must observe the various identities, people, ideas, and origins. We must be able to acknowledge that our experiences differ from each other. But to define the loving of diversity, we must accept each other's differences and appreciate the steps humanity made towards transforming the stigma to blessing, beginning with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. However, appreciation of diversity is not solely a single layered concept of just love- it is the process of overcoming hate to grow together as one, despite many differences.
The world in which we live today is a result of the unique ideas that people have provided and pursued. Different environments and thought processes formed diverse ideas and visions. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the United States has become known as the land of opportunity and brought people here from all over the world. So many immigrants and people of different cultures have built upon their roots to bring America their perspectives, creating this melting pot of variety in almost every category. Furthermore, they built the reputation of America's creativity and bravery. Fusion of cultures brought upon thousands of new recipes while cultural backgrounds brought innovations to America's clean slate. Einstein, an immigrant from Germany, represented the United States as he paved a new path in science that impacted the world. Sergey Brin is an immigrant who has created the one of the internet's biggest website platforms. Arianna Huffington is a Greek immigrant who established The Huffington Post, a news platform that operates across the world. We became the great country we are today thanks to the wide set of different people who contributed to their future and connected people from all over the world, despite where or who they were. Without diversity, or the appreciation thereof, there wouldn't be the innovations and inventions that led to the rise of the 21st century.
Though diversity led to improvements and innovations, being different hasn't always been a favorable trait. It was often a stigma, a weakness. People were segregated and hated not only for their skin color, but for their gender identities, appearances, and origins. Segregation was a major barrier to receiving equal treatment and love in the 1960s: People of color were grouped away from Caucasians and were treated differently solely because of how their appearance. Women were rejected their rights to receive benefits for their service in wars as they were segregated, along with people of color, to minor positions that provided no recognition for them. People of different sexual orientations were treated with negligence and hate solely because they didn't love who they were stereotypically supposed to love. However, the mistreatment of people for their distinct traits did not stop at social stigma and negligence. The differences brought upon fear and confusion to those who were so used to homogeneity. This fear gave way to hate and the hate gave way to violence that struck people and killed many solely because they did not fit in the norms. Civil Rights Activists such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Medgar Evers were assassinated for their passion to normalize what should be considered normal; Stonewall Riots resulted after police raided gay bars in the Greenwich Village. But this diversity, that was the fuel for hate crimes and violence, was what united the people to appreciate each other and fight for overcoming this hate. Passing of legislation, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and breaking of social norms through constant marches and assemblies helped unite America, and perhaps even other countries, into one country that has diverse traits and qualities that represents a melting pot of so many cultures and opportunities.
Diversity is a multifaceted concept of innovation and break of hate for the sake of unity, regardless of the variety in qualities. Though the appreciation of our differences has grown over the years, there is still much hate and negligence surrounding us. We must never forget the sacrifices people have made for the more widely accepted differences and add on to those achievements by loving our diversity and working for a better future where hate itself is stigma.

3. Gracie Tribolet, Hebron, Ms. Bertrand
I used to gaze upon the world, like I was seeing through a window. Contained in a safe place, protected from the outside world, blocked from the darkness that exists, blinded from reality, and living in a fantasy. Then one day, I went outside and saw the world for what it was. I finally saw the darkness, but it wasn't just darkness it was fear, rage, violence, and pain. But the worst thing I saw was the darkness overtaking humans, we were destroying each other because of our differences. Our diversity is dividing us, by creating a world with oppression. We need to accept and thrive because of our diversity. We need to embrace tolerance; only then we can create a better world for us to live and thrive in. All we need to do is create tolerance among all the diverse groups in our society.
Tolerance is recognizing others’ beliefs without sharing or practicing them. Tolerance is what makes us human, it is a responsibility that upholds human rights, while promoting peace in our society. Every person has an obligation to uphold the meaning of tolerance, by acting toward the common good. We can create tolerance through education and greater efforts need to be made to teach people about tolerance, human rights, and respecting other ways of life. We also need to have more self-awareness of the things we do or say, and how those actions are seen in society. Of course, creating tolerance doesn't happen overnight, it is a process that will take years and years, through the generations and generations of people. 
Dr. King shared these beliefs, he saw the injustice in the world and he didn't hide from it. Dr. King used his knowledge and experiences to teach the world the dangers of oppression and how to better accept diversity in our daily lives. Dr. King was a prominent leader in the civil rights movement and used non-violent protests to peacefully show the world that oppression was not to be ignored. He spurred societal change and not just for equality under the law, but for tolerance and acceptance of all races and ethnicities. 
Once I was outside, I couldn't go back in to the safety of the window. I tried to go back in, I screamed, I cried, and begged for someone to let me back in, to the safety of my safe place. But once you see something, you can't block it, or forget it. You are burdened with that knowledge for the rest of your life. Then, you are given a choice to either ignore the darkness and hide away, or fight to see a better world, a world without oppression. So, do your part and make a difference in society, like Dr. King.

Grade 11
Sarah Saleem, MHS, Ms. Popp
 Although the United States has a painfully complex relationship with diversity, we can still strive to overcome it and embrace our diversity by acknowledging the oppression faced by marginalized groups, by educating ourselves on the world that surrounds us, and by taking action through the many resources available to us. From its conception, America has been a study in contrasts. Although our founders prized freedom and the natural rights of man, slavery persisted for nearly a century after the Declaration of Independence. Despite being a country built on immigrants, nativism and hatred of immigration still continues. Though equality has been a value touted by Americans everywhere, racism and the continued suppression of minorities has been a constant reminder that America is just as much a nation of hypocrisy as a nation of liberty. Diversity is beautiful- our racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural differences give the world meaning. Looking back, the civil rights movement of the 1960s fought against the separate but equal standard because it was inherently untrue. Today we stand on a different cliff, where many Americans have professed themselves colorblind, where all races and ethnicities ought to be considered the same in all matters, where there is no difference between black, white, brown, etc. The issue here is not with the idea of equality- of course all races, ethnicities, human beings ought to be given the same rights- but rather with the blatant dismissal of culture and historical precedent. Remaining colorblind is the complete opposite of embracing diversity, because it ignores the historic disenfranchisement that people of color have faced and continue to face in our society. There are activist groups for virtually every marginalized group. It is easier than ever to be an activist, because activism today is so varied and widespread. By voting in both local and national elections, we can elect those who hold the power to change the American stance on diversity. We have been on a slow and steady trek towards fully embracing the diversity in our world and it likely won't be finished during our lifetime. But we, as a country, have battled extreme hate with compassionate activism and continue to do so- proving that we are capable of the great change.

2. Alexis Marzawanian, MHS, Ms. Forthun
 The beauty of diversity isn't the range of different ethnicities, cultures, or races, it's the fact that despite our differences we somehow all connect with one another. Whether our connection is through similar beliefs, common interests, or even just the fact that we live near each other. Diversity shapes our society and helps bring people together despite their differences. As a child, prejudice and inequality were not a concern. Life was so simple then, only cares in the world were the simplest of things such as what we were going to play with. We didn't care if our friends were different
I used to be ashamed of my Lebanese and Armenian heritage. I was afraid that if I embraced my ethnicity that I would not "fit in". All of my friends would tell me how they wished to have such a "cool" ethnicity, but I just couldn't believe them. In 1915, the Ottoman Empire exterminated 1.5 million Armenians. My ancestors were part of the 400,000 that managed to escape. They fled to Lebanon where they raised their families and where my grandparents and parents were born. My grandparents fled Lebanon when war broke out, seeking a better life for their children. With little money and not knowing a single word of English, they came to America. They faced many struggles including discrimination. At times they were called "terrorists" simply because they were Middle Eastern. That didn't stop them, though. They raised their families in America with little to nothing and eventually flourished through hard work and persistence.
I am so grateful for all of the sacrifices my family has made to provide a better life me and the future generations of our family and I have come to realize that if I don't embrace my diversity, then all of those people who tried to destroy my race would have succeeded. I lived a lot of my childhood in fear of being judged for my "weird" ethnicity, but now I am happy to accept who I am and where my roots originated. So, I encourage everyone to embrace their diversity and whatever makes them unique and to accept everyone no matter what.

3. Suchitaa Sawhney, FMHS, Ms. McMichael
 My personal experiences have taught me to be more understanding and accepting and to remind others that being different is not something to be ashamed of, but rather, something to embrace. The human race is extraordinarily diverse in gender, ethnicity, race, religion, nationality, sexuality, lifestyle, and philosophy. The areas in which we differ are endless. Yet, at a fundamental level, we are all human — we all experience highs and lows in life, and we all strive to be happy and fulfilled. Our common pains and joys are what unite us but our diversity exhibits our uniqueness. Diversity is what makes each person a distinct individual, one who has never existed and will never exist again. Loving diversity is the key to a peaceful world. 
Many of the world's tragedies have been caused by discrimination on the basis of differences: the Holocaust, the Crusades, and slavery, among others. Yet, this problem exists today. There are numerous examples around us, with various religious wars and genocides happening throughout the world. 
In most of our minds, we possess assumptions that make us judge people who are different from us without even realizing. Yet, if instead of emphasizing our differences, we focus on what we have in common, as Martin Luther King Jr. hoped, we can create more peace in the world. Martin Luther King Jr., like Gandhi, Mandela, and Wiesel, was a champion for diversity — an issue for which he fought fervently. His message and teachings still ring true today, and his dream of diversity and inclusion is a notion for which we are still fighting. May we all continue to push for the equality Dr. King envisioned — today, it is more important than ever. In order to fully embrace diversity, it is crucial to be open-minded. For example, focus upon embracing other people, with all of the diversity that comes with them. Avoid defining a person based upon one stereotype or one assumption because everyone has an individual, complex identity. I learned to embrace my differences when I realized that being different was a benefit. Ever since, it has been my goal to teach others to love their differences, similar to how I did. We must join forces and accept our differences, so we can create a better, more peaceful world. 

3. Justin Walker, TCHS, Mr. Meyrat
 With the growing polarization of political landscape into a linear progression of only Liberal, or Democrat, and Conservative, or Republican, comes an immediate decrease in the acceptance of unity. Religious identities are also becoming increasingly problematic; sexual identities are being disavowed, and the divide between the average person and his neighbor is wider than ever. Dr. King yearned for the day when one man is seen no different from another, and the worth of an individual is based on the "color of their character." What we instead have is identity politics where an individual is based solely off of who they are ethnically, sexually, and religiously. Isn't this viewpoint the complete antithesis of unity? That's where the problem lies. True unity is only ever truly achieved through diversity. With all of the different identities of race, gender, or affiliations, diversity is more key to our culture than ever before. 
To view it from an economic standpoint, cultural diversity is critical to growth and development. Cultural diversity improves creativity, allowing more flowing viewpoints and perspectives. Put another way, diversity leads to a variety of perspectives and thinking styles, offering opportunity for new ideas. To view the issue from a strictly biological perspective, biodiversity is critical to the development of the human race. It allows for differences in appearance and personality, and it even lowers risk of disease. Finally, from the viewpoint of the average person, diversity allows for a more well-rounded and educated viewpoint of the world. Those who are closed-minded are only such because of the environment they were raised in. Without the experiences of different variations of culture, race, gender and sexual identities, and religions, no one can understand the viewpoints of others. 
Perspective is the key to an empathetic culture where we can all understand the effects of our actions, which would let us work harmoniously as a society. Diversity, in the end, is the most critical factor in a beneficial human race. Whether it's race, gender, or religion, the things that make us all different are the keys to bring us all together. We must love the things we don 't share to appreciate the things we do.

Grade 12
1. Asyah Jiron, LHS, Ms. Squibb
Malcolm Forbes described diversity as the art of thinking independently, together. In order to love the diversity in our world, we must learn to accept others' differences and seek understanding. Rainbows illustrate how amazing it is when beautiful, different, and precise components come together. Christians feel the seven distinctive colors are a promise from God that He would never flood the entire Earth again. Greco-Roman mythology considers the rainbow to be a path made by the messenger, Iris, between Earth and Heaven. Chinese mythology teaches that a rainbow is a slit in the sky sealed by goddess Nüwa using stones of different colors. The Irish believe that a leprechaun hides his gold at the end of the rainbow. Despite our independent thoughts and interpretations, we can all agree that the rainbow is a symbol of promise, hope, and patience. These three components will help us love the diversity in our world. 
A promise is assurance that something will occur. Marriage vows are elegant, yet powerful. They are a promise that two will spend the rest of their lives together. Now, imagine if we could all elegantly and powerfully vow to love everyone. With so many different types of people in our world that we are lucky to cross paths with other souls and interlock! Of course, marriage should not be the answer every time we meet another and connect, but every interaction is an opportunity to promise that you will be kind and loving, regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation...
Hope creates an optimistic state of mind and optimism can carry us through hard times. Diversity means variety and a variety of different people can help us during hard times. Mandela stated in his books that the only way he was able to get through prison was by clinging to hope. While he was in jail, his mother died and his son was killed in a car accident. Sadly, he was not able to attend their funerals. His way of grieving was to have hope. Nelson Mandela embraced the diversity in our world, so much, that he served time for it. He had hope that his country would get better, and it did. 
Lastly, patience is the ultimate key to loving the diversity in our world. Harriet Tubman said, "Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world." Loving the diversity around us takes time, so we must learn how to be patient. The Greco-Romans, Chinese, and Irish were from different parts of the world; however, all of their interpretations about the rainbow represented something positive. Love is a positive attribute, and so is diversity: why not put two positive things together to make an even GREATER "positive". 

2. Uk Lian Mang, LHS, Ms. Squibb
Loving diversity and accepting our differences in this world is not an easy task. Diversity allows us to cultivate and have better ideas about others. It grants us the ability to paint and see the world in different colors. Since I discovered that I could hold a pencil and draw, I've been using colors. Colors make paintings beautiful and meaningful. You cannot use just one color of paint to draw magnificent landscapes. Not one is more or less important than the other. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream is to paint the world in different colors. He wanted the world to be a colorful place because such a setting is likely to be filled with rainbows and love.
… So, whenever rainbows appear in the Bible, that phenomenon is a reminder of God's promise to Noah that He would never destroy the earth again. God did not choose one color; he used a rainbow-filled spectrum because such a natural phenomenon displays many different colors which results in making the image graceful. Such a natural contrast also reveres diversity. With all the different ethnic groups and different cultures intertwined, we can build a stronger nation and a better world. Some might ask, "The world is already filled with many different people. Why is it still not a better place?" The answer is that it lacks love. Love for one another and love for diversity! 
Like George H. W. Bush said, "We are a nation of communities, a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky." If there is no love between communities, there cannot be any love in the nation. We must love the diversity that we have within our communities and cities. 

3. Suket Shah, FMHS, Mr. Werts  
Growing up in an Indian household, the war for controlling the single TV in my house raged everyday. I picked American shows like Simpsons with the only Indian character being Apu while my parents picked Indian shows like Kaun Banega Crorepati (the Indian version of who wants to be a millionaire). Watching these characters was my first real exposure to the diversity in cultures within my life. Never before had the clash between my American culture and my Indian upbringing become so vivid for me to see. But in 2015 this all changed. For the first time my family sat in the living room in a silent ceasefire in the midst of our war. "Quantico", an American show starring the Indian actress Priyanka Chopra, was on the TV. Unlike both of these characters, she was the first Indian character that was able to balance the diversity of both cultures. Sitting on the couch watching Quantico with the rest of my family, I saw the beauty of not only accepting but also loving the diversity in my upbringing.
Throughout most of my life I only saw the two channels that played Simpsons and Crorepati, but as I matured I was able to, in essence, go channel surfing and see the cultures/races they represented. However, I am just a small part of a movement, created by Dr. King, of exploring and respecting other cultures. Dr. King was a pioneer in convincing individuals to change their perspective on diversity within society. Valiantly gazing into the sea of humans of different color, gender, and age, Dr. King articulated one of the greatest speeches in American History in "I Have a Dream". King expressed his emphatic emotions towards a divided nation that was plagued by racism and bigotry. However, contrary to other leaders during the same time period, Dr. King advocated for a nonviolence approach towards change. After all, the most permanent way for a leader to change societies' ideologies is by peacefully convincing individuals to change. While it has been almost 50 years since Dr. King was assassinated, and while this world misses his leadership, Dr. King has left the world with the ideologies and the movement he started. These have become some of the founding principles for the slow trend to love the diversity we see.
As I graduate high school, I will be entering a new version of the world full of diversity. Just like me, every individual has the choice to push away or embrace the diversity, but it is clear that more individuals currently choose the latter due to the shift in society's perception of diversity. Being one of the strongest advocates for this shift, Dr. King's ideas last beyond him. In the TV that is filled with every culture in the world, everyone has the remote to switch his or her channels in order to explore and love the diversity in our world and continue to follow the always-living philosophy of Dr. King.


MLK 2019-2020 Essay Winners
Grade 4
1. Aman Chavali, Liberty, Ms. Alicia Ducote
2. Shivam Trivedi, Hebron Valley, Ms. Drummond 
3A. Rishita Medhi, Liberty, Mrs. Britin Strong
3B. Erin Shaw, B.B. Owens, Mrs. Scalise 

Grade 5
1. Maryam Aziz, Castle Hills, Mrs. Robertson 
2. Thiyanah Nimallan, Wellington, Mrs. Mary Quinn and Mr. Todd Hanson 
3A. Gideon Etufugh, Castle Hills, Mrs. Karnes
3B. Jordan Ferreira, Hebron Valley, Mrs. Spurgin  

Grade 6
1. Shreyes Suribhotla, Shadow Ridge, Mrs. Reinacher
2. Madeleine David, Downing, Ms. Leverett
3. Izma Amina Fias, McKamy, Mrs. Moore

Grade 7
1. Imara Vidhani, Creek Valley, Ms. John
2. Addison Fletcher, Downing, Mrs. Phan
3. Madison Dickerson, Delay, Ms. Voltrain

Grade 8
1. Rileigh Schutzmann, McKamy, Mrs. Miller
2. Mark Kahley, Briarhill, Mrs. McKnight
3. Jackson Hanish, Briarhill, Mrs. McKnight

Grade 9
1. Tina Luo, FMHS, Mrs. Harper
2. Advika Varadharajan, LHS Harmon, Mr. Boyle
3. Liliana Gonzalez, LHS Harmon, Mr. Boyle

Grade 10
1. Ngun Tin Thlem, LHS Killough, Mr. Cooper
2. Sowmya Sridhar, FMHS, Mrs. Schmaltz
3. Allison Chen, Hebron, Ms. Bertrand

Grade 11
1. Natalie Yook, FMHS, Mrs. McMichael 
2. Frederique Mailand, FMHS, Mrs. McMichael
3. Dylan Orrison, FMHS, Mrs. McMichael

Grade 12
1. Brandon Halsema, TCHS, Mr. Meyrat
2. Nikhita Ragam, Marcus, Mrs. Hale
3. Semi Ojerinde, LHS, Mrs. Hardaway 

Essay Winners 
Grade 4
#1 Aman Chavali - Liberty Elementary School, Mrs. Alicia Ducote
"Being in a family means that we should care for one another in good and bad times, we should treat each other with love and respect, and we should also stand up for each other when things are unfair."

2. Shivam Trivedi, Hebron Valley, Ms. Drummond  
"We can make our future bright, positive and a better place by uniting with each other, treating everyone equal with dignity and respect."

3A. Rishita Medhi, Liberty, Mrs. Britin Strong
" Remember, we should try to do the right thing no matter what, to not judge by skin color, and to treat everyone fairly."

3B. Erin Shaw, B.B. Owens, Mrs. Scalise
" As humans we all deserve respect, love and understanding."

Grade 5
1. Maryam Aziz, Castle Hills, Mrs. Robertson  
"No matter how much we advance in technology, it will be of no use if there is no unity, love and friendship in this world."

2. Thiyanah Nimallan, Wellington, Mrs. Mary Quinn and Mr. Todd Hanson
"Diversity adds power to our nation, because everyone has their own strengths."

3A. Gideon Etufush, Castle Hills, Mrs. Karnes
"Focus on what we have in common and not the differences."

3B. Jordan Ferreira, Hebron Valley, Mrs. Spurgin 
"The world needs more tolerance. The world needs empathy, the world needs, above all, love"

Grade 6
1. Shreyes Suribhotla, Shadow Ridge, Mrs. Reinacher
2020 shall be a new beginning. A beginning in which the leaves of greed, jealously, vanity, anger and wrath crumple and fall. In exchange, the fruits of acceptance, cooperation, determination, integrity, reverence and thankfulness shall manifest.
2. Madeleine David, Downing, Ms. Leverett
One human family for me is like the five fingers on my hand. A human family can stay strong only when we are standing together side by side. This is what one human family is to me.
3. Izma Amina Fias, McKamy, Mrs. Moore
One human family to me means...we all fight for justice where there is injustice. It means that we come together as one big giant community and support one another. It is we live in peace and harmony.
Grade 7
1. Imara Vidhani, Creek Valley, Ms. John 
By applying Martin Luther King, Jr.'s principles of including change in society, we can insure a brighter future for years to come. My doctor said I should get glasses sometime soon but, I disagree. I have 2020 vision. My 2020 vision is to make the world around us safer for the puppies, penguins, my brother and the person reading this sentence.
2. Addison Fletcher, Downing, Mrs. Phan
If your goal is to treat others equally and be kind every day, that will put you and someone else in a better place. 2020 and beyond could be very positive, but it all starts with you!
3. Madison Dickerson, Delay, Ms. Voltrain  
  ...He's (Dr. King) not the only one with a dream or a vision for the future. I have a dream that the whole world will look at each other, and not think at all. In my dream, everyone will hold hands and change the world. It doesn't matter how you do it, it just matters that you're not alone. You have to do it with one human family.
Grade 8 
1. Rileigh Schutzmann, McKamy, Mrs. Miller
As children, our eyes belonged to us. As children, our ideas of race remained nonexistent… We need to maintain our childhood minds, with thought unsculpted by those around us. We must let violence go to rest and let peace awake. If we as a society do these things, we’ll be several steps closer to creating a true human family.  
2. Mark Kahley, Briarhill, Mrs. McKnight
Common ground is a thing that humans struggle to find. If we realize that both sides have good aspects to their opinions, we can come to an incredible solution… My vision for 2020 is hopeful for the best. I hope we can put aside our pride, embrace other cultures, and permit all people to have a voice… I hope we can breathe knowing that all people are one family. 
3. Jackson Hanish, Briarhill, Mrs. McKnight
I got the talk… I didn’t want to be different. I wanted to be accepted. I wanted to be normal. I was asked once about what I wanted in the future. Ignorant, I asked for flying cars and robots. Now, I want to be free of the chains of prejudice. I want to walk in the streets as equal…I must not be crushed by the boulders trapping me in the mountain of despair, I must become the stone of hope.
Grade 9
1. Tina Luo, FMHS, Mrs. Harper
Our fingers eagerly sank into the sand without question, their sole goal to unearth the seashells hidden beneath. The more shells of varying sizes, colors, and designs we discovered, the prouder we grew in our collection. We understood that each shell was linked to a universally magnificent creation: the sea. Similarly, all individuals are connected in mind and in heart, everyone a masterpiece painted by the same wonders… Someday, the sea will glisten in euphony for its shells have each received the deserved recognition of their individuality. The world is our sea and we are its seashells.  
 
2. Advika Varadharajan, LHS Harmon, Mr. Boyle
Now as 2020 approaches, I have a vision for the world I hope to create. A vision for a global environment where when two people meet they don’t think ‘He’s a Muslim’ or ‘She’s Asian’ but rather ‘He/She is a person, just like me!’.
I hope we can come together in a worldwide initiative with people who share our positive views. With increased interconnectivity and empathy, we can truly bond collectively as one human family.

3. Liliana Gonzalez, LHS Harmon, Mr. Boyle
To many people, it seems like the world is crumbling. Climate change is a looming catastrophe that many of us regard as harmful. My peers see poverty as an issue that doesn’t matter. There have been so many mass shootings in the US. But we should acknowledge the good in the world. Taiwan became the first country to legalize same sex marriage. In 2016, Hilary Clinton became the first female presidential nominee of a major party. In Dec 2019, Rosa Parks was officially honored with a memorial statue. Thailand is banning the most harmful plastics. The Bukhara deer are no longer endangered.  

Grade 10
1. Ngun Tin Thlem, LHS Killough, Mr. Cooper
When a farmer sees a tree that is unhealthy he looks at the roots to diagnose the problem. So, like the farmer, we must look at the root and not to the branches of government or the politicians. We are the root, we are the foundation this generation needs… I have a vision that we can make this the best generation of mankind in history. 
  
2. Sowmya Sridhar, FMHS, Mrs. Schmaltz
As another year rolls around, millions of us are eagerly making New Year’s resolutions. There is one resolution we’d all benefit from: to join together and create one big family. And this is one resolution that shouldn’t last a few days; it’s one that should continue on to 2030 and beyond. This last decade has proved how much change is possible. Here’s to turning Dr. King’s dreams into realities with a decade full of compassion, empathy, and acceptance. 

3. Allison Chen, Hebron, Ms. Bertrand
For years, society has struggled to put the pieces of the human puzzle together, using brutal force towards those that didn’t fit. Dr. King saw that people have more depth. He wanted us to be united by a bond formed of trust. That is my vision for 2020 and beyond: that we continue to fight for each other despite the disparities in our identities. As one human family, rather than falling back on segregation, we can continue pushing for integration. 

Grade 11
1. Natalie Yook, FMHS, Mrs. McMichael 
Each night, new deaths fill the news, each one by the pull of a trigger. Every week, children flee from their schools when they hear shootings… If everyone reciprocated every wrongdoing, the world would be at its end. Arguments would be everlasting. Forgiveness would not even be a word in the dictionary. We would lose the one thing that makes us human: empathy. Together, as one human family, we must not combat savagery with savagery.  

2. Frederique Mailand, FMHS, Mrs. McMichael
Hate is a strong word. It’s easy for us to say ‘I hate him.’ In reality, the phrase should be ‘He wronged me and that bother me but I forgive him.’ It’s necessary to forgive people for their flaws. Learning to love rather than hate is challenging and requires active thinking. In order to unite the world in 2020, we have to encourage people to love rather than hate. 
 
3. Dylan Oreeson, FMHS, Mrs. McMichael
Dr. King’s values of being kind to another evokes a positive response. It may not go well at first but with time, it will slowly start to wither away the hatred in the world. The next step is to recognize that we are different from each other and that is okay. We do see race and we should acknowledge it and that not one race or culture is superior to the other. The last step is the most important and it is to respect a person for who they are. Being kind and respecting your fellow man or woman are the steps to end polarization throughout the world.  
Grade 12
1) Brandon Halsema, TCHS, Mr. Meyrat
In order for one human family to be achieved we must seek friendship and understanding with those who we disagree with. Just like how every family argues our human family will too. What will keep us a family is understanding. We must let education be the fire that drives us to a brighter future. To be come one, we must learn the complete story-the wants, needs, motivations, pasts- of both ourselves and whoever we disagree with.

2. Nikhita Ragam, Marcus, Mrs. Hale
When this black police officer took the job many of his family members questioned him. Why is he taking on this job? Why is he entering a field that perpetuates unnecessary violence against his own community? He believes that change stems from within and diversification of the police department would aide in eliminating racial biases.
We are one human family composed of varying ethnicities, religions, and sexualities. Slowly but surely we are learning to embrace our differences under the umbrella of humanity.

3. Semi Ojerinde, LHS, Mrs. Hardaway 
A person should not be defined by the melanin of their skin, but by the melodies of their heart. We are all one family despite our genetic color, beliefs or location. Just like the innocence of children we should not see color as a barrier to reach out to others. As 2020 and more years come by, we must have a conviction that as a Americans we reside in a nation under God, we are all a family that sheds love and loves our neighbors just as we love ourselves.