History: Beginning in 2010, our local newspaper, the Citizen-Tribune, began sponsoring an essay contest for three age levels of Hamblen County students: High School, Middle School and Elementary School. Prompts for essays at each grade level were provided by the school system. Members of the Morristown Task Force on Diversity served as readers and judges. An award of $100 was presented to the winner in each category at the annual MLK Community Celebration and Breakfast by Editor, Mike Fishman. Each winner was invited to read his or her essay,.
In 2013, there were well over 300 submissions of essays from Hamblen County students. In 2014, there were 500 entrants and last year, in 2015, there were over 800 entrants. Additionally the contest was opened to K-2 students who were invited to provide a drawing and a few words in response to their prompt.
Teachers used the essay contest to promote critical thinking in line with state Language Arts requirements for students. Awards were presented at the Annual MLK Breakfast by the editor of the newspaper, Michael Fishman.
2016 Essay Contest : A complete packet with detailed instructions and a copy of Dr King’s “I Have a Dream” speech may be downloaded by clicking here (2016 Essay Contest Packet
In summary, the essay prompts for 2016 are:
Prompt for K-Grade 2:
Dr. King dreamed of a peaceful world where everyone is treated fairly. Show/Tell how we can be fair and treat people equally. (May include illustration.)
Essay Prompt for Grades 3—5
(We hope that teachers, parents or other adults will read or watch Dr. King’s speech with children of this age group and talk together about what they hear as well as these questions before the students write their essays.)
Using evidence from the text of the speech, answer the following question: “If Dr. King were with us today, what about our world would make him proud? Where would he say we have more work to do?”
Essay Prompt for Grades 6—8
Read Dr. King’s speech, “I Have a Dream .” In this speech, Dr. King identifies several goals he hopes his speech will achieve. Identify two of those goals and tell how we have made progress toward those goals since the speech was given.
Essay Prompt for Grades 9—12
Read Dr. King’s speech, “I Have a Dream.” What does Dr. King mean when he used the metaphor “sit down at the table of brotherhood?” How do we as an American society live up to this metaphor? What are the next steps for America in achieving a society that reflects this vision?