Teen Writing Contest Rewards Stories About Tolerance with College Scholarships
An Ocean City High School student won a college scholarship for her creative and insightful book advocating tolerance and diversity.
The winner of this year’s Diverse Minds Writing Challenge in southern New Jersey is “Outside the Box,” written and illustrated by Marley Goudie from Ocean City High School in Ocean City, New Jersey. 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. Goudie was announced as the winner at an award ceremony at Atlantic City Electric’s regional headquarters on June 5.
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.
Goudie is compelled to advocate that youth’s interests not be imposed by traditional gender roles. She believes that whether it is with doll houses or Legos, children should be able to decide for themselves what they think is fun. Goudie believes children should be accepted no matter what choice they make in their toy options.
“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 event.
Susan Coan, Atlantic City Electric region vice president, discussed the significance of the program.
“We are a proud supporter of this initiative that promotes tolerance and diversity, and reinforces our commitment to an inclusive and diverse workforce,” Coan said. “We are pleased to have the opportunity to partner with B’nai B’rith on this program that teaches young people the value and importance in celebrating equality.”
By placing first, Goudie won a $5,000 college scholarship and her 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. Her 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 Morgan J. Kersey from Woodbury Junior-Senior High School in Woodbury, New Jersey wrote and illustrated “Little Moments” and will receive a $2,000 scholarship. Third place winner Vincent Grossman from Lower Cape May Regional wrote and illustrated “Heath and His Monsters” and won a $1,000 scholarship. In addition, the teacher who advised Goudie, Paul Matusz, received a $1,000 grant to use for classroom or organizational materials. Ocean City High School received a $500 grant.
Since the contest began in the 2006-2007 school year, B’nai B’rith has published 41 original children’s books, awarded more than $330,000 in college scholarships and grants and donated more than 45,000 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. Judges this year included Olshan; Coan; Eric Scheffler, sheriff of Atlantic County; Albert B. Kelly, mayor of the city of Bridgeton; and Joann Gattinelli, mayor of Washington Township, New Jersey.
Delmarva Power and Pepco also held contests this week for students in the Delmarva Peninsula and in Washington D.C. This is the fifth year Delmarva power, and sixth year Pepco has participated in the Diverse Minds Writing Challenge.