NEWTOWN, Conn. — Two brothers from Newtown are among the winners in the second annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Essay Challenge sponsored by U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy.
“Dr. King inspired us all to fight for justice and equality. For the second year in a row, I’m totally blown away by the essays and ideas of these students. It was hard to pick just a few winners,” said Murphy.
Kenneth Konrad Miller, 7, a student at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and his brother, Karl Daniel Miller, a student at Newtown High, wrote about their experiences as African-American students in largely white town.
In his essay, Karl wrote about racism that he has encountered from his classmates, but said, "My dream is that we are able to celebrate our diversity and accept each other as we are. My dream is that my little brother, who shares my black hair and brown skin, never experiences what I have. My gratitude is that I have so much more than I would if not for the dreams of Martin Luther King."
His younger brother, Kenneth, wrote in his essay about how he relates to King. "I am like Dr. King because I am different from most of my friends because my skin is brown, but, because of him, I go to Sandy Hook School, which is really awesome. I also spend everyday practicing being kind" like King.
Kenneth met Murphy last summer during a Town Hall meeting in his hometown and brought up the topic of kindness.
The 7-year-old waited patiently in line for nearly an hour for his turn to ask the senator a question.
“How can we make America kind again?” Kenneth asked. Murphy gave Kenneth a high-five and told a story about a similar question from his 8-year-old son, Owen, who asked, “Dad, what’s the point of all this?”
"And what I said to him was that when it all comes down to it, I think the point is to be kind. And to try and make things better for one another. And to help people," Murphy said.
Kenneth, who said with a big smile that he was "terrified" to ask this question, said that Murphy gave him "a pretty good answer." [ Click here for the story of the meeting at Daily Voice.]
Murphy announced 15 winners in his essay contest — students from elementary, middle, and high schools across Connecticut.
About 700 students submitted essays to Murphy’s office reflecting on Dr. King’s dream and their own aspirations. The winning essays will be displayed in Murphy’s office.
“We reflect on Dr. King’s legacy, and I hope that students across Connecticut who wrote essays took it as an opportunity to do so. If they stay engaged and fight hard for what they believe in, they can accomplish anything they set their minds to,” Murphy said.
Here are the winners, with three in each Congressional District:
Congressional District #1:
- Aarav Mathur – Aiken Elementary School in West Hartford
- Zishan Ahmed – John F. Kennedy Middle School in Plantsville
- Malik Martin – Connecticut River Academy in East Hartford
Congressional District #2:
- Quentin Kuczaj – Windermere School in Ellington
- Avni Kabra – East Lyme Middle School
- Colleen Keller – East Lyme High School
Congressional District #3:
- Rodney Crockett Jr. – Moody Elementary School in Middletown
- Maia Quarles – City Hill Middle School in Naugatuck
- Alex Guzhnay – Achievement First Amistad High School in New Haven
Congressional District #4:
- Ryan El-ouardighi – K.T. Murphy School in Stamford
- Kristopher Flores – Roton Middle School in Norwalk
- Latrel Stewart – Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk
Congressional District #5:
- Kenneth Konrad Miller – Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown
- Kyler Kumi – Rochanmbeau Middle School in Southbury
- Karl Daniel Miller – Newtown High School
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