A Whitmore Charter School seventh-grader has won the Regional Rotary District Interact program essay contest.
The contest was open to Interact students in sixth though 12th grades. Marlee Baker won with her essay on the theme "Peace through Service What I Can Do To Help."
She made these points in her essay:
Peace building in her family "Some wars even happen within our own households, like having to explain to my mother why I tackled my brother over the last cookie."
Peace building at school "Bullying has always bugged me, and since the fourth grade I promised myself to do what I can to help those being harassed. Unfortunately, I once stood in the place of the bully. I was new to a school and wanted to fit in. For a short period, I followed the crowd and cruelly teased others to make myself feel better. When I look back at myself during that time, it motivates me to stop others from making the same mistakes I made."
Peace building in her community "I am a member of Interact and enjoy every meeting and activity. I distinctly remember serving food to the homeless one weekend morning. I arrived tired and nervous but left with a jump in my step and new eyes to the world."
Peace building in the world "Interact has other projects too, but what we love to promote and fund raise for is polio relief. I was on the polio project team last year at school. To be honest, I dreaded it at first. Lunch was my only time with my friends and I didn't want to give that time up for a silly fundraising. Eventually, I dragged myself over to the table, sat down and began my shift. My friends didn't leave me alone like I anticipated. To my surprise, they followed my lead and promoted the fundraiser. Soon everyone was lined up with a dollar they had found in the bottom of their backpack, or loose change they just felt like donating. We had a scrapbook open and dozens of students stamped their pinky with purple ink. Leaving their mark, they helped save a child's life. We ended up with half a scrapbook full of signatures and a whole bunch of purple pinkies. I hope I saved a child's life somewhere in the world and I hope they walk well and are disease free."
Second place was won by Trevor Knudsen, a freshman at Pittman High School in Turlock. Trevor attended Whitmore Charter School in Ceres and was instrumental in getting the Interact Club at Pittman reactivated. Trevor wrote, "The best way to achieve inner peace is from helping others and getting involved. When one helps others, it helps one realize the greatness of peace in the people you are helping and in you yourself."
He, too, talked about raising funds for polio eradication saying, "My assistance in projects like Polio Plus is helping those in countries that still have the infectious disease find peace as they can feel safe by being vaccinated."
Both Marlee and Trevor will attend the Rotary Global Peace Forum with their mothers in January.
Brittanie Lewis, a senior at Beyer High School in Modesto, recently was awarded $1,000 for the Soroptimist Violet Richardson 2012-13 Award. The award recognizes young women who make the community and world a better place through volunteer action. Brittanie organized and led art classes at the Modesto Gospel Mission Children's Center with the assistance of her fellow students. Her compassion enabled homeless children to experience self-discovery through art.