Grace Miner, a eighth grader at Archie R. Cole Middle School, won the 2012 Gandhi Essay Contest sponsored by the University of Rhode Island's Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies. The contest challenges eighth grade students from across the state to think critically and personally connect with the life and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. This year's contest drew in 187 entries from 28 different schools across the state. The top 22 finalist and their families and teachers were invited to an awards ceremony on May 1st at the Multicultural Center Forum at URI where 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize winners were announced. Aside from being named 1st prize winner, Grace also read her essay to the assembled crowd.
Grace learned about the essay contest from her English teacher, Melissa Fallow. "Mrs. Fallow posted the essay contest information on her board."
After researching Gandhi, Grace decided to write the essay because, she said, "I felt really passionate about what I had learned and Mrs. Fallow always encourages us to write about things we feel passionate about." The eighth grader said she was most struck by Gandhi's practice of peaceful resistance. "Gandhi never advocated fighting back, but he advocated peacefully resisting oppression which draws attention to your humanity."
She also was amazed to learn that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was influenced by Gandhi's message of nonviolence. This message really resonated with Grace who participates in the Coleader Club at Cole. Grace feels Cole is a place where students and faculty make every effort to practice the principles of respect, acceptance, and nonviolence.
In her essay, Grace writes, "At my school, I participate in the Coleader program where teachers and faculty members empower students to become leaders who practice respect, unconditional acceptance, foster healthy relationships, celebrate diversity, and challenge existing behaviors and attitudes that are biased and stereotypical." This program is run by East Greenwich Drug and Alcohol Counselor Bob Houghtaling and Family and Consumer Science teacher Elise Wolff.
For more information about the essay contest or to read Grace's essay, visit http://www.uri.edu/nonviolence/gandhiessay/index.html
Author's Note: I am proud to write this post about my younger sister, Grace.