WELLSBURG - A Wellsburg girl is both a regional and state winner of an essay contest aimed at perpetuating the ideals promoted by Martin Luther King Jr.
Emily Donley, a fourth-grader at Wellsburg Primary School, was among West Virginia youth challenged to pen an essay based on a King quote.
She placed first among pupils in grades 3-5 and in Brooke, Ohio and Marshall counties competing in the YWCA's 18th Annual Project on Racism Essay Contest and placed second among hundreds of pupils in those grades at the state level of the competition.
Donley elaborated on a famous quote by King on the nature of education by drawing upon her experiences at school, including the school's character education program, which aims to impart to pupils the meaning of various virtues.
Donley and other regional winners of the contest were asked to read their essays at a Martin Luther King Day program at West Virginia Northern Community College in Wheeling.
As a state winner, she was presented a certificate and book on King's life at a program in Charleston held by the Martin Luther King Jr. West Virginia Holiday Commission and the West Virginia Division of Culture and History on Jan. 15.
Donley noted winners in other categories, including a poster contest, also were honored, and all were treated to a luncheon held in their honor.
She said it's important to remember King because he stood up for minorities, pushing for them to have rights equal to those of white Americans.
The daughter of Henry and Yvonne Donley, Emily said she learned of the contest through her enrichment teacher, Cheryl Kelly.
It's not the first time Donley has been honored for her writing. Last year she and Margaret Camilletti, a former Wellsburg Primary pupil, placed first in their respective grade levels at an Ohio contest held by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Donley also has been a local winner of the West Virginia Young Writers and PTA Cultural Arts contests.
Asked if she's interested in becoming a professional writer one day, she replied, "I think I would like to be an author if I'm not a veterinarian."
Donley has various pets, including a dog, cat, fish and snails, over the years. She also enjoys reading, baseball and soccer.
The following is Donley's essay:
"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education." - Martin Luther King Jr.
My school helps me to be a better person by helping me to think critically and intensively.
To think critically means to see and think of things in many different ways. To think intensively means to think hard about something.
By reading Martin Luther King Jr.'s quote, I must think critically and intensively to know what he means.
My school helps me by teaching me lots of things. It teaches me about different traits of good character. The dictionary says character is the special way in which any person feels, thinks and acts.
I think that character contains:
C for creativity.
H for honesty.
A for alertness.
R for responsibility.
A for attentiveness.
C for compassion.
T for tolerance.
E for enthusiasm.
R for resourcefulness.
My school teaches me that all these things are good traits to have.
During school I must think intensively. We have tests, writing and computer work that we must ponder over.
Also, some children have Math Field Day after school. Tests are usually easy, but some are challenging. On writing assignments, we must also reflect about what to write.
Also in school, we must think critically. An example of this is the Six Hat Thinking Strategy. It is a thinking tool with six different colored hats. Each stands for a different way to think about the problem.
Another example of thinking critically is problem-solving. In almost all of our classes, we must solve problems. My teachers help me to think hard in many different ways. I know that thinking critically and intensively helps to solve many problems.
I think that Martin Luther King Jr. wanted people to know that thinking intensively and critically and having character is important.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)