The Diversity Council held its annual Martin Luther King, Jr. youth poetry contest. Olmsted County students from grades 3-12 were welcomed to submit their entries. A quote from Dr. King inspired the theme for this years contest.

We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear. ["Antidotes for Fear" sermon by Dr. King]

There were three age category for winners chosen from elementary, middle school and high school. Judges did not know the authors identities as they reviewed the poems. You are invited to hear the winners read their poems at the annual “We Have a Dream” community breakfast on Monday, January 15th. The winners are listed below:

High School

1st Place
Harmanpreet Kaur
Century High School
Grade 12

“The Walls of Courage”

I walk to the front of the room.
I feel the stares as I refuse to look up.
I think of all the things people must be thinking.

I look up straight into a pair of brown eyes
A smile forms on her lips
While a small smile begins to form on mine

I am brave.
She is brave.
He is brave.
Yet, we all are scared

Of what?

We are scared of the uncertainty,
Scared of the other person,
Scared of ourselves.

Instead, we should build up the courage
To stand up
To see the limitless opportunities at our hand
To block the fear
And see the love. The braveness. The kindness. The passion.

The world.

As I build of the courage, I share this with others.
I encourage my friend to speak up.
I encourage a stranger to smile.
She encourages me to continue.
He encourages her to block out the fear.

We all help one another
Build the wall of courage
And with all these walls,
No flood will break them down.

2nd Place
Kesarin Mehta
Mayo High School
Grade 9
“The Price of Uno”

3rd Place
Ilhan Raage
Century High School
Grade 11
“Stronger Than Fear”

Middle School

1st Place
Helen Girma
St. Francis of Assisi
6th Grade

“Be the Warrior”

The flood is coming
Ruling the innocent hearts
A forceful tyrant
Defeating us all
Authority is not ours
We allow its ways
A storm of power
Petrified to confront it
We obey instead
Terror is brewing
Seeking to overpower
The fear is coming
We need a hero
With an antidote for fear
Courage standing tall
Daring soul to help
Slay the basilisk of fright
Be the warrior

2nd Place
Thalia Kohler
Friedell Middle School
6th Grade

3rd Place
Rachel Taunton
St. Francis of Assisi
6th Grade
“We Are”

Elementary School

 1st Place
Isy Kohler
Jefferson Elementary
4th Grade

“As Strong As Iron”

A flood, A hurricane, Washing away all hope and equal
rights Winds howling, Houses ripping into shreds,
death,loss,fear,the things that feed this mighty storm
with humongous waves of despair only to be harmless
compared to hope.

The thing that feeds the heart,
the thing that makes weak to strong,
the poor the Rich,and for lost ones to be found,
the dams that hold this big world together,
but still the world is full of loss and despair

Though the weak sometimes never grow strong,
and sometimes some people are TO lost to be found,
and some people can never fledge
and take flight to see and raise the hope in this world,
that they only see the waves of lost
hope and weakness,the winds of fear.

So we must raise the city of hope
and peace, still standing,and batter the waves
with our courage, reverse the winds
with laughter,For let world peace stand as strong as iron
forevermore and build this hill of equal rights
to a mountain that never crashes down

2nd Place
Nisha Wetter
Jefferson Elementary
5th Grade
“My Branches”

3rd Place
Kaitlyn Ballard
St. Francis of Assisi
4th Grade
“Girl with a Dream”

Honorable Mention
Jason Ballard
St. Francis of Assisi
6th Grade
“I Dream of Courage”

Owen Sutton
St. Francis of Assisi
6th Grade

Chiara Lovely
St. Francis of Assisi
6th Grade
“We Fight”

Ella Davis
Jefferson Elementary
5th Grade

Abigail Wordelman
Hoover Elementary
4th Grade
“The Army of Courage”

Mattea Try
Jefferson Elementary
5th Grade
“We As One”


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