Southeast Texas students to visit Washington, D.C. as national ambassadors

Southeast Texas students to visit Washington, D.C. as national ambassadors

Two Southeast Texas students captured the hearts of their readers and a trip to Washington, D.C. after submitting essays detailing how violence has affected their lives and what they would do to exact change through the Do the Write Thing Texas Challenge, part of the National Campaign to Stop Violence.

June 14-18, Vidor Middle School sixth grader Reagan Alston and Woodville Middle School seventh grader Anthony “Marcos” Broom will join other national ambassadors from across the United States to make a difference in Washington, D.C. These students will be honored in additional banquets, and their papers will be published in the Library of Congress.

Alston and Broom and 15 other ambassadors from schools all across Southeast Texas were honored in an ambassador recognition ceremony April 21 at the Lamar University Setzer Center Ballroom, where superintendents, principals, teachers and families joined Dr. Brenda Nichols, Lamar University dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, and Jefferson County Judge Randy Shelton to recognize the students’ efforts.

“We can learn from each Ambassador and their positive outlooks on life,” Jim Baxter, Region 5 ESC specialist and master of ceremonies, told the audience.

Do the Write Thing State Coordinator Joni Murphy called the program “the best model in the state of Texas,” adding that she was impressed with the efforts of both the students and their teachers.

Dr. Bonner from Port Arthur ISD said the event was “professionally intimate and beautifully decorated,” a compliment to the Junior League of Beaumont, who decorated the venue for the heartfelt affair.

A drum roll kicked off the evening as the 2014 ambassadors walked the red carpet in the Setzer Center Ballroom with Lamar Football players Logan Moss and Kade Herrington.

In a special candle-lighting ceremony, 2013 Ambassadors Westley Pollard III of Beaumont ISD and Emily Lafley of Vidor ISD passed their lights forward to the new ambassadors.

“May you light your path and write the way,” Judge Shelton told the students,as he helped light candles and awarded an anti-violence medal to every ambassador.

Alston and Broom both read excerpts from their essays, eliciting emotions from both their peers and audience members.

“Violence may affect you at school, on the bus, or even at home, but don’t let it define you. In our world, we could all use this advice. … Make today count. Be the one that stands up against violence. I believe that one person can change the world with just a few kind words,” Alston read to the audience.

“Violence will continue to be a part of our lives unless we learn to make better choices,” read Broom. “People need to understand how violence affects not only victims, but their families and others who care about them. People need to stop and think of better ways to handle the situation and understand the consequences of their actions.”

Michelle Reynolds, regional Do the Write Thing coordinator, said that the state and national ambassadors will attend an array of activities, working with Judge Shelton and Lamar University College of Arts and Sciences during the 2014-15 school year.

“The ambassadors are the heartbeat of the program,” Reynolds said. “Their strength and courage is inspiring. It is an honor to celebrate each one of them.”

The State Ambassadors are Derek Moore, Sabine Pass School; Gerson Quintero, Abraham Lincoln Middle School; and Madison Taylor, Orangefield Junior High School.

Other ambassadors included:

•Jared Abbott, Little Cypress Junior High School

• Meagan Clarke, Chester Junior High School

• Mia Escareno, Sabine Pass School

• Ngoc Huynh, Thomas Jefferson Middle School

• Micah Johnson, Vidor Middle School

• Olivia Keltz, Little Cypress Junior High School

• Amaya Kendall, Little Cypress Junior High School

• John “JT” Martin, Chester Junior High School

• Jorge Medina, Thomas Jefferson Middle School

• Rane´Prak, Woodville Middle School

• Lauryn Thomas, Abraham Lincoln Middle School

• Dawson Wells, Orangefield Junior High School

Visit for more information on the Do the Write Thing Challenge.