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Teen Writing Contest Rewards Stories About Tolerance with College Scholarships

Two Clearview Regional High School students will share a $5,000 college scholarship for their creative and insightful book advocating tolerance and diversity.
The winner of this year’s Diverse Minds Writing Challenge in southern New Jersey is “Neat and Orderly,” written and illustrated by Naomi Amadoro and Brianna Groch from Clearview Regional High School in Mullica Hill, N.J. In the Diverse Minds contest, high school students write and illustrate children’s books to help elementary school children celebrate and appreciate tolerance and diversity. Amadoro and Groch were announced as the winners at an awards ceremony at Atlantic City Electric’s regional headquarters on June 6.
This education and awareness initiative was created as part of B’nai B’rith programming that promotes tolerance and communicates a message of equality among all citizens. Funded by Atlantic City Electric, the contest aims to enlighten, inspire and educate America’s young people and their families in an effort to eradicate prejudices and strengthen ties among today’s youth.  
Mental health is a very personal topic for both authors—both are heavily involved in their school’s Mental Health Awareness Club and one of the winners was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder at the age of 10. Mental health and mental disorders are widely under-discussed and difficult for others to understand, which can lead to misunderstandings and mistreatment.
“We believe that it’s very important to accept everyone, both with outward appearances, and also any unseen characteristics such as mental facility. With this story, we hope to raise the awareness of mental disorders and help children to understand and accept others for all that they are,” Amadoro and Groch said.
“Along with a diverse environment comes the need for tolerance and inclusion, and these ideas are oftentimes harder to embrace. So our efforts in recent years have been to underscore the importance of these pivotal concepts—particularly around bullying, diverse families and religious tolerance,” B’nai B’rith International Associate Executive Vice President Mark D. Olshan said.
At the ceremony, the finalists and winners were congratulated by Olshan; Vince Maione, Atlantic City Electric region president, and D.H. Figueredo, award-winning children’s author of “When This World Was New.”
Atlantic City Electric leaders at the event talked about the significance of this program.
“The people and communities we serve are important to us,” Maione said. “We strive to make a difference in the lives of others by providing safe and reliable service to our customers, helping to protect the environment and supporting various initiatives within our communities. We look forward to continuing to actively participate in our communities today and for years to come.”
By placing first, Amadoro and Groch will 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. Their book will also be accessible in an e-book format and will be available on iTunes and Amazon as a free download.
Second place winner Tatiana Ramos from Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy in Camden, N.J. wrote and illustrated “Have a Little Bit of Faith” and will receive a $2,000 scholarship. Third place winner Tayla Ball from Kingsway Regional High School wrote and illustrated “The Dancing Turtle” and obtained a $1,000 scholarship. In addition, the teacher who advised Amadoro and Groch, Michel Richard, received a $1,000 grant to use for classroom or organizational materials. Clearview Regional High School received a $500 grant. 
B’nai B’rith has now published 33 original children’s books, awarded more than $300,000 in college scholarships and grants and donated more than 39,000 books to public schools, libraries and community organizations across the country.

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. Some of the judges for this year included Olshan; Maione; Susan Coan, Atlantic City Electric region vice president; Frank X. Balles, sheriff of Atlantic County; Fola Adebi, executive director of Wow! Science Camp; Albert B. Kelly, mayor of the city of Bridgeton; and Richard Stepura, interim executive superintendent of Cape May and Cumberland County schools.

B’nai B’rith has enjoyed working in conjunction with Atlantic City Electric for the fourth year in a row as part of our expanded partnership with Pepco Holdings, which also sponsored Diverse Minds in Washington, D.C., and in the Delmarva Peninsula.