Five inspired young authors received their proper recognition after completing the first-ever Black History Month oratorical essay contest hosted by the Ellis County African American Hall of Fame and the Bethesda Lodge in Waxahachie.

Students had to submit an original essay written in the STAR format and read the work to a panel of judges. Participants chose from a variety of six prompts that ranged from how to eliminate racism to thoughts on the Black Panther Party.

At the elementary level, Georgia Tabb won first place with her composition titled, “By Any Means Necessary,” which is a quote from the famous advocate Malcolm X. In her essay, she expressed how Malcolm X’s words inspired her own goal to be a lawyer and fight for the constitution.

Hayleigh Roy came in second place with her essay titled, “A Perfect World,” and Galilea Gonzalez placed third writing about Marcus Garvey.

Hayleigh’s mother, Jennifer Roy, referred to her daughter as the “hippie child of the family with her kind heart and an open mind; she’s always radiating positivity and promoting unity.”

Galilea’s older brother, Rotelil Gonzalez, mentioned his sister’s independence in her academics stands out.

“Galilea did her own work on this and didn’t really ask for any help,” Rotelil affirmed. “At such a young age, she’s capable of writing her own essays, and that makes me proud. If she wants to do something, she’ll do it and do it right.”

In the intermediate category, Natalia Vasquez placed first with her interpretation of how she would create a perfect world where racism and prejudice would not exist. Vasquez’s writing suggests in the world she created, “everyone starts over with untainted mindsets and hearts.”

Runner-up in the contest was Aniaya Crawford who also received honorable mention for her essay on Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.

Tabb, Heyleigh, and Galilea all attend Dorie Miller Intermediate School in Ennis, while Vasquez attends Shackelford Elementary in Waxahachie.

Students were judged based on the STAR writing rubric, neatness of paper, and use of blind reading score. Judges consisted of Jason Butler, Faith Morgan and Dr. Jacquline Rasheed, a counselor at West Main Elementary School in Lancaster.

“The students were very well prepared, and you could tell they were coached and ready for the STAAR examinations,” Jacquline explained.

Duane Steel, Worshipful Master of Bethesda Lodge, stated he was very excited about how the students performed and delivered strong content.

“It was inspiring,” Steel expressed.

Dr. Jamal Rasheed, president of the Ellis County African American Hall of Fame, said, “It was good to see the students involved from such diverse background, and that is what the hall of fame is about, teaching an entire community to learn more about the contributors of African Americans in the world and Ellis County.”

Jamal said he hopes that this first-ever essay contests for the two organizations will inspire more people in Ellis County to visit the African American Hall of Fame.

Ashley Ford | @Aford_news | 469-517-1450