JPS Students Win Robert H. Jackson Young Readers Program Essay Contest

Robert H. Jackson Center Executive Director Susan Murphy, JHS junior Grayson Holt, JPS Superintendent Bret Apthorpe, JHS freshman Dawnelle Walter, Washington Middle School seventh graders, Maddy DeJoy and Cecelia Johnson, and Robert H. Jackson Center Director of Development Marion Beckerink. Submitted photo

Jamestown Public Schools’ students, JHS junior, Grayson Holt, JHS freshman, Dawnelle Walter and Washington Middle School seventh graders, Maddy DeJoy and Cecelia Johnson, recently won the Young Readers Program Essay Competition from the Robert H. Jackson Center. This year’s essay contest writing task was: “How have child labor laws affected society?” There were 38 essays submitted to the contest and five JHS students, Ellen Cross, Micaela Cleveland, Sarah Russo, Nick Beach, and Abby Nordwall, helped rate them. Winners received a signed copy of “Tomorrow is Now: It is Today That We Must Create the World of the Future” by Eleanor Roosevelt.

“The contest gave me an opportunity to see through the eyes of someone my age many years ago,” said Grayson Holt. “It allowed me to have a new perspective on the opportunities I’ve been given because of the effort of the reformers who initiated the labor changes. I focused on how society sees children, and I talked about the ways that child labor laws have allowed children to pursue their passions instead of being stuck in dangerous factories.”

Dawnelle Walter added, “I wrote my essay from the point of view of a mother who lost a child in a factory accident, and my main inspiration came from thinking about how my own mother would feel if anyone in our family died. Child labor laws protect children from dangerous conditions. I am so honored to win this award and meet Allida Black.”

The Robert H. Jackson Young Readers Program uses literature to engage young people with their world by inspiring them to read and hone their analytical skills and writing ability. The annual essay contest is an opportunity for students to explore each year’s related theme and to be prepared to engage more closely with a guest speaker’s remarks. This year, the Center invited Dr. Allida Black to speak via Skype to the student winners on May 15 about child labor laws and poverty using the text of “Lyddie” by Katherine Paterson and other relevant sources.

Walter remarked, “Dr. Black made a Harry Potter reference and I had an instant connection to her. I really liked the way that she expressed her opinions. She was very accepting of other people’s views.”

Holt added, “Dr. Black was interesting and funny. I liked hearing her opinions and appreciated her interest in our thoughts as well.”