CRC announces 2018 Rosa Parks essay contest winners

Published on December 07, 2018

CRC Rosa Parks Essay Contest Winners with Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and City Manager Mark Washington

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission (CRC) today recognized the 63rd anniversary of the day Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Ala., with a “Rosa Sat So We Could Stand UP” bus ride and announcement of nine Rosa Parks essay winners.

After the symbolic bus ride through downtown that included historical commentary provided by members of the CRC, the Rosa Parks Education Committee announced the winners of its annual essay contest for middle and high school students.

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, City Manager Mark Washington and members of the CRC honored the winners at an afternoon ceremony at City Hall.

“This essay contest gives us an opportunity to help youth make a difference in our community,” said Misti Stanton, chair of the CRC Rosa Parks Education Committee. “It gives them a platform to express themselves and stand up for what they believe in.

“This year's essays were very personal. The students used their voices to tell their stories to make a positive change through their journeys. Their stories are very moving.”The nine winners of the Rosa Parks essay contest are:

High school winners (11-12 grade):
A total of 111 qualified essays were received from local high school students in grades 11-12.

The judges selected the following winners:

First place – La’Kesha Clay –  Southeast Career Pathways
$500 “Leadership and Police Brutality”

Second place – Ania L. Powell – East Kentwood High School
$300 “Leaving a Legacy”

Third place – Jenna deWaal – Plymouth Christian High School
$200 “Every Second Counts”


High School winners (9-10 grade):
A total of 187 qualified essays were received from local high school students in grades 9-10.

The judges selected the following winners:

First place – Thailin C. Johnson – City High Middle School
$500 “An Inspiring Legacy”

Second place – Xiangyu Chen – East Grand Rapids High School
$300 “Everyday Leaders: Torches of the Trail Blazers”

Third place – Sophie Dedert – Plymouth Christian High School
$200 “Lean on Me”


Middle school winners (7-8 grade):
A total of 251 qualified essays were received from local middle school students in grades 7-8.

The judges selected the following winners:

First place – Tania Willoughby – Riverside Middle School
$500 “Speak Up”

Second place – Malayah Garrison – Riverside Middle School
$300 “Pushing Through”

Third place – Keira Harrell – City High Middle School
$200 “A Single Person Can Change History Forever”