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2006 – 2007 Diverse Minds Winner – Los Angeles

Katie D. Piller

The story of a brave caterpillar who teaches animals and insects in a scary land to appreciate and celebrate their differences won first prize at Los Angeles’ inaugural B’nai B’rith International Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge. Michael (Mickey) Lutz, a senior at Culver City High School, wrote and illustrated the winning story, Katie D. Piller.

At the Los Angeles awards presentation, held at the 92nd Street Elementary School, an LA’s BEST (Better Educated Students for Tomorrow) school site, President and CEO Carla Sanger talked about how the work created for this contest has a deep and lasting impact. “The children we work with through LA’s BEST are eager to connect and feel they matter,” Sanger said. “For many, there is little opportunity to talk about their thoughts and feelings at home. Programs like the Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge show them their feelings matter…and they matter as well.”

Los Angeles’ second place award went to the team of Gabriella De La Torre and Sarah Gomez of Saint Joseph High School in Lakewood for Monkey Tales. They will split a $2,000 scholarship.

The third place winner was Ann Lee of John Marshall High School for Matthew’s Favorite Color.

Michael (Mickey) Lutz

Michael (Mickey) Lutz with B’nai B’rith

Washington, DC

Elephants & Empanadas

A tale of elephants and empanadas took first place for the DC-area contest. Elephants and Empanadas, written and illustrated by senior Allie Tova Hirsch of Oakton High School in Fairfax County, Va., the winning book tells a story about embracing differences.

The second place team of Nanfei Yan and Tessa Yeng from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology split a $2,000 scholarship for their work, Halloween Surprises.

Lisa Anderson and Grace Lee of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, authors of Harry Hedgehog and Patty Platypus, shared third place honors and a $1,000 scholarship prize.

The students received their awards at the awards ceremony event, held at Union Station.


Allie Tova Hirsch of Oakton High School with Daniel S. Mariaschin, Executive Vice President, B’nai B’rith International

New York City

Sole Mate

Kandace Joi Coston, a junior at Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy, wrote and illustrated New York’s winning entry entitled Sole Mate: The Poem of a Shoe. The book tells the story of a shoe that gets off on the wrong foot when its shoemaker dies before he finishes the pair.

Yana Markevich, Elvira Spektor, and Rina Yashayeva of Brooklyn Technical High School earned second place honors and a shared a $2,000 scholarship for their book, Colorful Surprises.

Third place went to Christina Buliga of Long Island City High School for her book, Diversity: What Does it Mean?

Coston was presented with a copy of her winning book at the award ceremony event held at the New York Stock Exchange, whose Foundation served as the publication sponsor of the New York City Challenge.



Kandace Joi Coston of Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy