and in Life
The winning book in this year’s Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge, a contest where high school students write and illustrate children’s books about tolerance and diversity, is “Cake Kingdom” written by Kayla Trinh (Clarksburg High School) and illustrated by David Ng (Damascus High School). The winning book was announced at a May 28 award ceremony at Pepco Edison Place Gallery. B’nai B’rith is pleased to work in partnership with Pepco for the third straight year to present this scholarship contest.
“This [intolerance] is one problem, one issue where one person can make a difference,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin, who presented the award to the winners. “B’nai B’rith has made it a priority to promote tolerance.”
In Trinh and Ng’s story “Cake Kingdom,” a large wedding cake at a bakery ridicules and ostracizes the other cakes as, one by one, the baker reveals they all have different colors on the inside. After all of the confection’s rejections, the wedding cake is left alone and sad. Finally, a customer orders a slice of the wedding cake—unveiling its multi-colored inside and reuniting it with its cake companions.
“It was delightful to see the writing of this contest,” said Joe Rigby, chairman, president and CEO of Pepco Holdings Inc. He noted how vital it is to celebrate differences that make us special and unique.
The winners share a $5,000 college scholarship and their book has been professionally published. It will be distributed to local schools, libraries and community organizations, as well as to the annual TODAY Show Holiday Toy and Gift Drive. “Cake Kingdom” will also be published in an e-book format, available for free download in the iBooks Store.
This is not Trinh and Ng’s first time in the contest. Last year, they won second place. While Ng has enjoyed illustrating since childhood, Trinh only writes occasionally—making their win all the more impressive. The two students, attending different high schools, have known each other since middle school.
Second place winner Rachel Bird from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda wrote and illustrated “Our Different Families” and received a $2,000 scholarship. Third place winners Laura Carty and Lauren Remaly from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Bethesda wrote and illustrated “Francine's Happy Accident” and will share a $1,000 scholarship. In addition, Ng’s and Trinh’s schools will each receive a $500 grant.
“A world with all kinds of people is like a garden with all kinds flowers,” said keynote speaker and award-winning children’s book author Jacqueline Jules in an inspirational speech. She recited an original poem titled “Tag Your Dreams,” which urged the audience to, “Play tag with your dreams, chase them until you’re breathless.”
This education and awareness initiative was created in conjunction with B’nai B’rith programs that promote tolerance and communicate a message of equality among all citizens. The contest aims to enlighten, inspire and educate America's young people and their families in an effort to abolish prejudices and strengthen ties among today’s youth.
Over the last seven years, B’nai B’rith has published 20 original children’s books and awarded more than $165,000 in college scholarships and grants.
A diverse panel of judges from the worlds of education, the arts, business and government, along with B’nai B’rith International leaders, reviewed the submissions and selected the winners. Judges this year include: Kaya Henderson, chancellor of D.C. Public Schools; Sybille A. Jagusch, chief of the Children’s Literature Center at the Library of Congress; Anita Merina, national coordinator for Read Across America at the National Education Association; Kim Westheimer, director of Welcoming Schools at Human Rights Campaign; and DeRionne P. Pollard, president of Montgomery College.
Pepco officials announced that the company will again sponsor the contest in 2015.