RPB Student Tops In DTWT Essay Contest

One eighth grade student from Royal Palm Beach wrote about her drug-addicted mother, whose boyfriends would physically abuse her and her older sister. A sixth-grade boy from Boca Raton wrote about his older brother who was shot and killed for the $50 he had in his pocket. The act robbed him of ever getting to know his older brother.

This is just a sampling of the compelling essays written by more than 25,000 Palm Beach County middle-school students in their efforts to stop youth violence in the “Do the Write Thing Challenge” (DTWT), a program from the National Campaign to Stop Violence. The program does not focus on the poignant stories that often come to light in essays and in-class discussion. The focus is to help students identify the causes of bullying and violence, examining the impact it has on them and, most importantly, what each student can do to help prevent it.

Ten students — five girls and five boys — selected by the Palm Beach County Steering Committee of the National Campaign to Stop Violence will be recognized Monday, May 12 at a luncheon held at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach. The top boy and girl will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., June 14-18, where they and other “ambassadors” from around the country will be honored in a national ceremony. From the 25,000 Palm Beach County middle school students who participated in the Do the Write Thing Challenge, 292 were selected as finalists, who, with their parents, teachers and principals will attend the May 12 recognition luncheon.

The top five girl recipients are: Kennedy Thomas of Crestwood Middle School, eighth grade; Kaitlyn Adams of Conniston Middle School, sixth grade; Caira Palmer of Lantana Middle School, eighth grade; Patricia Willoughby of Christa McAuliffe Middle School, eighth grade; and Manuela Leyva of Boca Raton Middle School, seventh grade.

The top five boy recipients are: Michael Lesh of Don Estridge High Tech Middle School, sixth grade; Dakota Downs of Pahokee Middle School, seventh grade; Keimoni Hunter of JFK Middle School, sixth grade; Josue Rendon of L.C. Swain Middle School, seventh grade; and Jamarian Green of Lake Shore Middle School, eighth grade.

ABOVE: Kennedy Thomas of Crestwood Middle School.