Exciting news: We received 51 entries for the Hope Shines Through writing contest. The stories were personal, touching and full of meaning. Thank you to everyone who entered. It’s tough to put your heart on the page. Our young writers gave their all. So proud of them.

Hugs to children’s book authors Judy Allen Dodson and Frances O’Roark Dowell who helped me judge the contest. We loved the creativity displayed in the essays and were moved by how the students overcame the challenges they faced. From managing anxiety and learning to ride a bike to coping with the loss of a grandparent and navigating life with Covid, each story shone with candor, resilience and hope.

To us, every student is a winner. We urge you to keep writing, keep believing in yourself and keep standing tall. We see you and honor who you are.

Here are the students whose essays earned prizes:

First place: Lila Mishoe

Second place: Laura Bendz

Third Place: Alivia Alexandra Akinbinu

Rounding out the Top 10:

Audrey Zheng

Noah Hildebrand

Adrian T. Jolly

Raina McMullin

Damara Wilson

Rachel Joseph

Nicolas Otero

Honorable Mentions:

Armand Etienne


Vaibhavi Kode

Abigail Wiliams

Gabriella DeWitte

Congratulations! Your prizes will be sent by next week.