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“It’s not always the children,” Priest said. “If the parents think that sports is number one, like football or basketball, they cannot make a commitment for their kids to get involved in oratorical or attend the banquet until they know what their children’s (sports) schedule looks like.”

No matter the number of entries, Priest said the contest must go on, and it serves a purpose. “Some of the schools in Beaver County are predominantly-Black, some are predominantly-White, but this gives all the kids throughout Beaver County to intermingle with each other, and you’ll be surprised with how they get along.”

Second Baptist Church is located at 453 Irvin Ave., Rochester. It’s the location where many students will have their first opportunity to present their essays to an audience, come Nov. 18. For Priest, it’s amazing to watch the students in action, as she’s already read all of the essays that were entered into the contest prior to Nov. 18. “If people could really read all the different thoughts of these kids that do enter, it’s amazing how these kids are thinking. We laugh, cry and we have a good time reading them all,” she said.

The deadline for submitting entries has passed, but Priest told the Courier the judges—who come from a variety of backgrounds and professions throughout Beaver County—will select the first and second place winners on Nov. 18. The winners will present their essays at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. banquet, to be held Jan. 14, 2018 at the VFW on Virginia Avenue, Rochester. More than 200 people are expected to attend, including Beaver County elected officials, who usually present the student winners with certificates.

“I’m determined to have young people there at the banquet,” Priest said. “I want young people to always be involved.”

 

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