The First Diversity Essay Competition, sponsored by the Breakthrough Club, honored four students Thursday at the Lodi Library for their essays on "Celebrating Diversity in Lodi: Reality or Goal?"
Students were asked to identify in their essays if each and every individual is insured a real voice in the community? Is it something that Lodians need to work toward?
They were also asked to give suggestions as to what the community needed to do to ensure that each and every individual is given recognition and respect, Breakthrough Project member James R. "Bo" Crowe said.
The Breakthrough Club is a school unity organization at Lodi High School that grew out of celebration for diversity on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and expanded, Crowe said.
"We asked them if Lodi needs to work towards recognizing and celebrating diversity or are we already there?" Crowe said. "Most kids said it was a little bit of both but there was always a need to work harder."
Twenty-nine students submitted essays for the contest. They were judged by a panel of five members, including members of the city's Breakthrough Project and Lodi City Councilwoman Susan Hitchcock.
First-place winner Sean McNary took home $100 and second-place winner Januel Mencado received $75. Ashely Allan and Jason Aguinaldo tied for third and both took home $50. All of the students are from Bear Creek High School.
Prizes were provided for by the Sunrise Rotary Club of Lodi.
Students will also receive certificates for their success at the June 20 Lodi City Council meeting.
The Breakthrough Project is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 that had originally started as the Inter-Faith Task Force. The group provided support to the community following the 1997 cross-burning at Tokay High School then later disbanded and reorganized as the Breakthrough Project.
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