Hard work and talent among Beaumont elementary and middle school writers was honored by nonprofit Save Our Children (S.O.C.) and its members during an elegant dinner awards banquet held Thursday, April 7, at the Compro Events Center.
More than 100 middle school students and more than 115 elementary students entered the essay contest themed “What does freedom mean to me?” and each of the more than 200 entrants received commendations for their effort. Medals, plaques, trophies and trinkets awaited the young writers, and for the top placed essayists, scholarships were also awarded.
Receiving first place accolades from the elementary level was Pietzsch-MacArthur fifth grade student Charissa Kelly, who wrote that the meaning of freedom was the ability to have equal rights under the law unlike generations of family members before her. Eighth grader Kevin Kimble from Austin Middle School penned the first-place entry among his age group, writing about freedom in varying capacities, including the fight for freedom to marry regardless of to whom, the right to equal compensation and punishment regardless of skin color, and the notion that with great freedom comes great responsibilities.
Attending the award ceremony to offer words of encouragement and knowledge were Judge Terrence Holmes, Judge Craig Lively and attorney Kent W. Johns, who all praised the efforts of the young attendees and the mentors responsible for guiding the youth to greatness. Also invited to the event along with all 200-plus entrants were the students’ families, community leaders, educators and S.O.C. sponsors.
The Rev. J.D. Roberts, S.O.C. founder and CEO, said he was excited about the amount of participation the essay contest received and the quality of the submissions. He also had a message for the teachers who work with the students, day-in and day-out, show the youngsters how to express their emotions and, sometimes thanklessly, have a hand in forming tomorrow’s leaders.
“I would personally like to thank you all for your time, assistance, love and support you have given to these young people,” he said in an open message to educators of the Beaumont Independent School District. “A very close friend of mine told me something that I would never lose sight of. She said, ‘When you touch the life of a child, you touch the future.’ S.O.C. believes that making a positive difference in the lives of our youth will also make a positive difference in our community.”
Roberts said he would be remiss not to mention the Wortham Foundation, Hadley’s Furniture. Cotton Cargo and sponsors from all over Beaumont who help make programs such as the essay contest possible. According to him, supporters of S.O.C. “believe that all kids are special, and that we can make a difference in their lives. Together, we as a community can save our future with a hand up, not a hand out.”