Lawson Essay Contest

Sharon Robinson presents Tank with the grand prize

Posted on by Jack Wilbanks

SYLACAUGA, Ala. – On the morning of April 24, Sharon Robinson, the daughter of famous baseball player Jackie Robinson, visited Nichols-Lawson Middle School. Robinson was present to honor Tank Wright, the winner of the national Scholastic Breaking Barriers Essay Contest on which previously reported.

Nichols-Lawson Middle School Principal Gary Rivers opened the assembly, honoring Tank Wright and thanking all seventh grade English teachers. Robinson then spoke to seventh grade students on the importance of essay writing, citing the value of self-expression that it brings to writers. Robinson then presented a staggering statistic: out of more than 11,000 students who submitted essays, Tank Wright was one of ten national winners, but furthermore, he was one of the two grand prize winners. The grand prize includes a three-day, two-night trip to a World Series game in addition to a laptop for himself and his teacher.

Following the grand prize presentation, Robinson took questions from students and then went to Tank’s English class to sign copies of her book Promises to Keep.

The essay itself required students to write about overcoming a challenge and how the students used the same values of Jackie Robinson to overcome the barrier. Tank’s essay revolved around the loss of his father and focused on courage and determination. Robinson told she was very moved by Tank’s essay.

“What was unusual about it to me was this it was a boy sharing his emotions because boys often avoid that. He was so expressive, and I thought that was a good sign that he would heal from this obstacle,” said Robinson. “It was sad, yet powerful, emotional, and very loving.”

“It’s been a wonderful day; the children have been very well behaved. I was excited to see such a diverse group of children. I liked the ones I met today, and I asked all of them what they like to do. It was great meeting all of them,” added Robinson.

“I knew when I read his essay that it was winning material. I told everyone at the school that I thought he had a great chance at winning, but now that he actually has won is just an absolute honor,” said Tank’s teacher, Emily McLain. McLain also added that having one of her own students win a national essay contest is very exciting for Tank himself, the school, the school system, and the city as a whole.

Principal Gary Rivers echoed McLain, saying that it was an honor to have a Nichols-Lawson student win an essay contest with more than 11,000 entries. “This win could not have come to a better young man. Tank Wright is very special, not only to the school, but me. I have been able to serve as his principal at both Pinecrest and now Nichols-Lawson, so I have had the opportunity to see his growth throughout the years.”

Tank’s mother, Sharon Wright, added that this experience has been thrilling. “Things like this just don’t happen to every student. It was a big a surprise to everybody. We didn’t expect him to come home from school one day saying ‘Hey, I won a national essay writing contest.'” Wright says she is also looking forward to the once-in-a-lifetime experience of attending the World Series.

To read Tank’s full essay, click here.

Jack Wilbanks for | © 2017, City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.

In October, Armijo sophomore Victoria Lawson won the Grand Prize from the Constitution Education Project Fund for her submission to the 2017 Constitution Essay Contest.

Lawson earned the contest’s top honor for her moving response to two prompts: “Why the Founders reject democracy as a model for our federal and state governments and, instead, establish the United States as a republic?” and “Explain the differences, and how do we ‘keep our republic’?” Lawson sought to demonstrate her writing aptitude and share her message. “I hoped my essay would communicate why the Founding Fathers instead embraced the United States of America as a republic instead of a democracy,” she said. “I believe the Constitution of the United States is the most important document in the country.”

Lawson was inspired to enter the contest to compete with local writers. Lawson was shocked at the news of her victory. “I was excited and I could not believe I was selected as the Grand Prize Winner,” she said. “My parents initially thought I was joking with them when I informed them I was the Grand Prize Winner. However, once they realized I was the Grand Prize Winner, they were very proud and excited for me.”

At the 6th Annual Awards Presentation Dinner, Lawson and fellow Solano County students were recognized for their contributions. “I was honored to have Principal Smith and my history teacher, Ms. Ramirez, at the awards dinner,” said Lawson, “Additionally, I felt proud to read my essay to the people in attendance.”

At Armijo, Lawson is involved in the Pre-International Baccalaureate program. She has participated in the National Honor Society, Key Club, Around the World Club, Future Medical Professionals, College and Career Club, and Model United Nations. Further, Lawson is an athlete on the Armijo cross-country and the track and field team.

When asked about her plans for the $1,000 prize, Lawson said, “I will use all of the prize money toward my college education. I chose to enter the contest because it was a positive and rewarding experience.” She plans to continue entering essay contests.

Lawson encourages every student at Armijo to participate in the Constitution Essay Contest next year. “The Constitution makes the United States into a nation, not simply a country,” she said.


Link to Victoria Lawson’s Original Essay:


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