by Mary Gadberry
January 12, 2024 – The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Educational Contest Series, showcasing elementary, middle school, and high school students’ artwork, essays, and speeches, was held at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District building on January 11, 2024.
The event theme was “Forty Years Later: Reflecting on the Past, Pursuing a Future of Inclusivity and Solidarity.”
The Office of the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Department of English Language Arts, Language Development, and History – Social Science hosted the event.
This year’s contest received more than 140 submissions across 32 school districts.
Ashley Henderson – Oehlschlaeger, a Content Specialist ELA/ELD and MLK Event Lead, welcomed the audience and introduced the speakers for the evening.
Dr. Michele Cantwell – Copher, Superintendent of Fresno County Schools, and Dr. Jeffery Hunt, the Director of Charter Schools for Fresno County Schools and MLK Unity Committee Member, made their opening remarks, setting the stage for a performance by Roosevelt School of the Arts Dance Teams, first performing a hip-hop routine, followed by a tap-dancing solo.
The winners of the Art Contest were announced by Ashley Henderson – Oehlschlaeger.
In the Elementary Division, Grades K -2, First Place went to Allie Liang, and Honorable Mentions went to Cassidy Park and Edward Liang, all from Fugman Elementary in Clovis Unified.
In Grades 3 – 6, First Place was awarded to Evelyn Hanson from Valley Oak in Clovis Unified, and Honorable Mentions went to Chelsea Park and Amelia Yu, both from Fugman.
In the Middle School Division, First Place was won by Dominic Aparicio from Clark Intermediate in Clovis Unified. Honorable Mentions were awarded to Kalia Stanton from Clark Intermediate and Vanessa Carrera from Parlier Junior High in Parlier Unified.
First Place in the High School Division went to Isabella Avery, and Honorable Mentions went to Summer Jewell and Riley Higuera, all from Clovis High School in Clovis Unified.
The Essay Contest winners were announced by Dr. Allison Hernandez, Director of ELA/ELD/HSS for the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools.
The Elementary Division winner was Blake McLaskey from Fort Washington in Clovis Unified, and Honorable Mentions went to Paige Liang from Fugman and Ajooni Chema from Century in Clovis Unified.
For the Middle School Division, First Place went to Natasha Drigpal, and Honorable Mentions went to Kinsley Murray and Sophia Stermer, all from Kastner Intermediate in Clovis Unified, while First Place in the High School Division went to Marian Pineda from Clovis North in Clovis Unified.
Dr. Jeffery Hunt presented the awards for the Speech Contest winners. In the Elementary Division, First Place went to Alice Feng from Bud Rank in Clovis Unified, Second Place to Ava Kim from Fugman, and Third Place to Safrin Jaurique from Manchester GATE in Fresno Unified.
First Place in the High School Division went to Angad Dulai of Clovis North, Second Place to Emiliano Salcedo from Washington Union in Washington Unified, and Third Place to Priya Prajapati from Clovis North.
Alice Feng performed her speech, referencing her grandmother and the differences in women’s right from then to now, and Emiliano Salcedo performed his speech, a moving piece that talked about his plans for the future and accessible health care for minorities and underserved communities.
The quality of work produced by these students is admirable. It was obvious that they had embraced the theme and the various interpretations were fascinating to see.
If you are interested in seeing this exhibit, it will be on display at the African American Historical and Cultural Museum through the month of February at 1857 Fulton Street, Fresno 93721. Their phone number is 559-544-1857, and their website is www.aahcmsjv.com.