Winning Entry Published; Scholarships Awarded
"The Mystery Gift” took top prize in the 2011 B’nai B’rith International Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge. Gidget Irizarry of Far Rockaway, a senior at Channel View School for Research in Rockaway Park, earned a $5,000 college scholarship and her book was professionally published.
In the story, which Irizarry also illustrated, students try to guess what is in a special box their teacher brings to class, each hoping it’s something for their favorite holiday. The gift turns out to be a photo of the class, and the teacher tells them: “during this season, you celebrate different things, but it’s a gift that every day you celebrate your differences.”
The contest challenges teens to write and illustrate children’s books that explain diversity and tolerance to elementary school-aged children. This education and awareness initiative was created in conjunction with B’nai B’rith programs that promote tolerance and communicate a message of equality. The contest aims to enlighten, inspire and educate America's young people and their families in an effort to destroy prejudices and strengthen the future of our youth.
The winners were announced June 14 at the New York Stock Exchange.
A panel of judges from the New York worlds of education, the arts and government, as well as the executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International, reviewed the submissions and selected the winners.
Rena Parisi, a Staten Island senior at Tottenville High School wrote and illustrated “Incredible Quane and the Regular Somethings” to earn second place. She took home a $2,000 scholarship.
Third place went to Sophia Philip of Manhattan for “Pepper and the Super Sparkle Sneakers.” A senior at The Spence School, Philip earned a $1,000 scholarship.
In addition, Jennifer Walters, the teacher who oversaw the creation of “The Mystery Gift” earned a $500 stipend to use for classroom or organizational materials, and Channel View School for Research also received a $500 grant.
“These book entries demonstrate that today’s youth not only recognize the melting pot we live in but appreciate its benefits,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.
“After reading all of the creative and meaningful submissions, I have great hope that this generation is one of acceptance and tolerance,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “The authors truly made B’nai B’rith International’s core values and ideals come to life.”
The contest, which is also held this year in Memphis, is now in its fifth year.
B’nai B’rith was pleased to work in partnership with The New York Stock Exchange Foundation for the fourth consecutive year.
Additional program information can be found at www.bnaibrith.org/diverseminds.