Contest making history reality

Published 10:02 am Wednesday, December 12, 2012

For the third year in a row, the Ohio University Southern Council on Diversity and Cultural Enrichment is asking all sixth through 12th grade students across the Tri-State to participate in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest.

The theme for the contest this year is “King: The Reality Show,” asking for essays on what a reality show focusing on a day in the life of Dr. King would look like if he were alive today. Questions provided to get the writers thinking include, “As television viewers, what would we learn from Dr. King as a role model? Based on your previous knowledge of and research on Dr. King, what kinds of life lessons do you think he would offer us through the example of his daily living?  Which of King’s values and beliefs do you think viewers could apply to their own lives, and how do you think King would express these values and beliefs in every-day situations?”

Robert Pleasant, director of enrollment and student services at OUS, said keeping history alive for students is essential.

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“I think it’s important so we don’t lose track of how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go,” Pleasant said. “I think it’s important for students to study all history.”

Pleasant said Dr. King left a significant impact in history.

“Dr. King was so important for the civil rights movement and the importance for equality for all people,” Pleasant said. “Not only can (students) educate themselves but the broader community as well.”

Pleasant said the students in the community have been very responsive to the contest in the past.

“We have had some great essays over the last three years,” Pleasant said. “Each year the number of essays we received has grown.”

The essays need to be between 750 and 1,000 words, double-spaced, and include references to at least one book source and no more than one website source.

Only one essay may be submitted per student. Include name, address, home phone number, parent’s email address, school, grade and age of student on the entry from, but no identifying information on the essay itself. The essay must be typed on one side of the paper, in Times New Roman font, size 12, with standard margins.

The essays will be judged on the author’s knowledge of Dr. King and his work in the civil rights movement, relevancy to essay theme, originality of ideas and clarity of expression, personal perspective, organization, grammar, and guidelines. Complete rules and guidelines are available online at

Students can submit essays by e-mail, postal mail, or delivered in person, must be received by Jan. 4, 2013, at 5 p.m., and must include a registration form available at

The contest will be divided into two categories, sixth through ninth grade, and 10th through 12th grade students, with first place in each category receiving $100, $50 for second-place essays, and $25 for third-place essays.

The winning essays will be published in The Tribune, and will receive an OU T-shirt and a certificate, as well as an invitation to the annual Ohio University Southern Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration in January. Winners will be notified by e-mail and telephone.

Any questions can be directed to Robert Pleasant at (740) 533-4600.