Students spread MLK’s message in art contest
RACINE – Racine students are gaining recognition by expressing themselves through art with messages about a dream.
More than two dozen students are being honored for their winning entries in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It’s the second year the Racine Unified School District has sponsored the pageant, allowing students in kindergarten through 12th grade to honor King in their own way.
Mallory Umar, the district’s assistant director of curriculum and instruction, said more students participated this year — with a total of 99 entries — and each took time to learn about the civil rights leader.
Some private school students also participated in the competition, Umar said, and next year organizers hope to include more private and other schools across the county.
“It’s bringing people together,” she said. “That’s what MLK was all about.”
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Racine gardener Sadhana Juluri explains the importance of Martin Luther King Jr. in a video that earned her a certificate in the school district’s annual competition.
The pageant coincides with MLK Day on Monday, honoring the slain civil rights leader, who would have turned 94 this year. Best known for his “I Have A Dream” speech, King made significant strides in civil rights before he was shot to death at the age of 39 in 1968.
His birthday became a national holiday in 1983, marked on the third Monday of January.
The winning entries of this year’s competition in Racine were displayed Saturday during an exhibition and celebration event that brought together artists and supporters inside the Mahogany Gallery & Artspace, 1422 Washington Ave.
Eduardo and Heidi Perez had twice as much to celebrate, as both of their children from Olympia Brown Elementary School had winning entries in the contest.
First-grader Ian Perez drew a picture of a historic King demonstration site, while his sister, third-grader Isabella Perez, created a sculpture honoring women who were active in the civil rights era.
Heidi Perez said she and her husband are a mixed-race couple, and they are determined to teach their children about the importance of racial equality and justice.
President Joe Biden on Thursday linked his legislative priorities on voting rights, police reform and climate change to Martin Luther King Jr.’s push. for racial justice, as it marked the 10th anniversary of the unveiling of the civil rights leader’s memorial on the National Mall.
Seeing the two children popular in the art and essay contest, both parents lit up.
“We are very proud,” Heidi Perez said. “They worked really hard.”
Several teachers joined the party to see their students recognized for their artwork.
Julia VanOudenhoven, an art teacher at Jefferson Lighthouse Elementary School, said she has been impressed to see her students learn about King and also find their own way to express his importance to them.
VanOudenhoven said three of her students — Jayda Turner, Tiyana Snow and Zara Vallin — skipped recess to stay in and work on their winning portrait of the civil rights leader.
Some students are so inspired by King and his “I Have A Dream” message, VanOudenhoven said, that they often go home and teach their parents about civil rights.
“They’re standing up for themselves and the things they believe in,” she said. “Children are the biggest changers”.
Collection: Enjoy some of the winners in the MLK Jr. art contest. for 2023 Aaliyah Gates Aarya V. Zore Amelia Jensen Ayana Jackson Desire Siller Elizabeth Paulson Ethan Glenn Famke Adams Ian Perez Isabella Perez Jayda Turner Tiyanraa Keyonah Porter Kjuan Howard Moises Donoso Roman Nasser Simrita Juluri MLK Art and Essay Contest Winners
High School: Roman Nasser, “The Dream,” Horlick; Jocelyn Garcia, “The Color I See,” Racine Virtual Learning.
Grades 6 to 8: Aaliyah Gates, “Let Love In,” 21st Century Prep; Aarya V. Zore, “Pencil Sketch of MLK’s Life,” Walden III; Keyonah Porter, “Standing Up in Challenging Times,” TPA; Linnea Foege, “Only Good Can Stay,” Gilmore Fine Arts; Montgomery Peters, “Essays,” Gilmore Fine Arts.
Grades 3 to 5: Amelia Jensen, “Darkness to Light,” Gilmore Fine Arts; Jayda Turner, Tiyana Snow and Zara Vallin, “MLK in the Light, Jefferson Lighthouse; Simrita Juluri, “Martin Luther King Artwork,” Jefferson Lighthouse; Isabella Perez, “Bouquet of Dreams,” Olympia Brown; Ayana Jackson, “Hope” SC Johnson; Elizabeth Paulson, “Only Love Can Off Hate,” Jefferson Lighthouse; Finnea Zinke, “Making a Difference,” Gilmore Fine Arts; Desire Siller, “I Have a Dream,” Gilmore Fine Arts; Kjuan Howard, “I Have a dream”, SC Johnson.
Kindergarten through second grade: Famke Adams, “The Speech,” Schulte; Jocelyn Maldonado, “Untitled,” SCJ; Ethan Glenn, “Martin Luther King Jr.,” West Ridge; Moises Donoso, “Untitled,” Julian Thomas; Olive Petrie, “Love Is United,” Gifford; Sadhana Juluri, “About Martin Luther King”, Jefferson; Ian Perez, “Bridge of Light,” Olympia Brown; Akorede Balikis Adewunmi Agbolade, “The Timeline of Martin Luther King Jr.”, Julian Thomas; Aria Casso, “Make a Stand! We Have Rights,” Goodland Montessori; Adan Loza, “Why I Chose to Write About MLK Jr.”, Gilmore.
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