Paducah students sweep MLK state essay contest
The essays were judged using the Kentucky Writing Score Rubric: purpose, awareness of audience, idea development, sentence structure and transitions, language and correctness.

Moss, Ali and Garcia's essays were strong on all fronts. Each of them also had a very clear and unique voice, an impressive feat for any writer, but especially for students so young.

Moss' essay was personal:

"Many people have inspired me in my life as a young male," Moss wrote. "One person that has inspired me to be a great human being and leader is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. During his life Dr. King made every man, woman and child feel like their lives mattered and that they could do anything in life as long as they worked to fulfill their dreams."

Garcia's essay was well-written and researched:

"Martin Luther King lived up to his expectations," Garcia wrote. "He accomplished the goals he had set, and he made the rights equal for black people and white people. Here is another of my favorite quotes from Martin Luther King, 'If you can't fly, then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.' His words inspired lots of people to do good."

Ali's essay was full of passion:

"My goal is to step up like Martin Luther King Jr. That should be your goal too," Ali wrote. "Martin Luther King Jr. was that person. He took his pride and showed it to the world. He is the reason we are free. Don't you want to be that kind of person? He made lives MATTER! He made African Americans show their pride, their ACTUAL person. Martin's 'I Have a Dream' speech changed EVERYTHING."

All three students said they put weeks of work into their essays but never imagined they'd win, and to win this contest in particular meant the world to them.

"Martin Luther King Jr., I think he's an inspirational person because he was one of the people who stepped up and shared his feelings with everyone, at a time when whites and blacks were separated in schools, they had different bathrooms, different water fountains," Ali said. "So many people thought it was wrong, but he was one of the only people who really stepped up and was brave enough to say it."

"I think Dr. Martin Luther King inspired a bunch of people to be better than they would have," Garcia added. "A lot of people thought things were all wrong, but they were scared that if they said anything they would get in trouble."

"And Dr. King did get in trouble," Ali continued. "He did go to jail many times. But he made a difference. He cared about everyone. He didn't just care about his own race. He really believed that all lives matter."
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