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Congratulations to Katie Asenbauer (Columbia High School), Taquasha Jones (Columbia High School) and Kimelah Griffin-Sprague (Red Mill Elementary School) for winning awards in the “Looking Forward … to Change” writing contest! Each of the students won second prize for their respective age brackets and will receive Walmart gift cards.

The students wrote of their personal experiences and observations with regard to racism in our communities. But, more importantly, each essay shared ideas about moving forward and educating each other to work toward understanding and acceptance.

Ms. Jones, 14, a student at Columbia High School said, “People are racist and they don’t even realize it.” She explained that pushing tough issues “to the side allows kids to assume and spread ignorance.”

The writing contest was sponsored by Rensselaer County District Attorney Mary Pat Donnelly.

“I am impressed by all of the students and families who took the time to participate in the contest,” she said. “I hope this is the start of a meaningful dialogue on this important topic. Thank you once again to the East Greenbush Walmart for their donation of prizes for this program.”

“Looking Forward … to Change” Writing Contest Winners

10 – 12 years old:
• First Prize – Mackenna Pashley, Hoosic Valley
• Second Prize – Kimelah Griffin-Sprague, Red Mill Elementary School
• Third Prize – Cole Franklin, Knickerbocker Middle School

13 – 15 years old:
• First Prize – Violet Dupuis, Averill Park
• Second Prize – Taquasha Jones, Columbia High School
• Third Prize – Ada Wu, Emma Willard

16 – 18 years old:
• First Prize – Jordanne Brazie, Berlin Central
• Second Prize – Katie Asenbauer, Columbia High School
• Third Prize – Shiquinta Wheatley, Troy High