Governor Phil Scott honored the winners of the VBA 2023 Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School Poster/Essay contest at a ceremony at the State House on March 22. The contest, sponsored annually by the Young Lawyers Division and the Diversity Section, challenged middle schoolers to write an essay and illustrate Dr. King’s quotation: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” Also in attendance were the parents of the winners, VBA president Andrew Manitsky, executive director Bob Paolini, and State Court administrator and former VBA Executive Director, Teri Corsones, among others.
First-place finisher Maeve Daloz, an 8th grader at U32 Middle and High School in Montpelier, illustrated a helping hand pulling another up from darkness. She wrote an essay about how even seemingly small gestures to help others can carry a big impact and how she had experienced this in her own life. First-runner-up William Cunningham, and 8th Grader at Mater Christi School in Burlington, created a poster contrasting a person in thrall to riches to one helping a child. His essay focused on the legacy of selfishness versus the legacy of selflessness. Second-runners up Hannah Drury and Zofia Willis worked together to create a high-concept black-and-white poster full of text messages of encouragement they had received from their parents. They described how this support was unwavering and what that meant to them.
The Governor spoke briefly about the importance of civility and kindness in every area of life and noted that it was encouraging for him personally to see such promising young Vermonters. Each of the winners then briefly explained the inspiration behind their contest entry to the Governor and he bestowed the awards and posed for photographs. A traveling trophy will now spend the year ahead at U32, the home school of first-place winner Maeve Daloz.
Following the ceremony, the winners and their parents took a guided tour of the State House. After getting a good look at the Capitol, the group headed to the Vermont Supreme Court. They were able to observe an oral argument, a hot topic on anti-stalking orders, before heading into a reception with Chief Justice Paul Reiber and Associate Justices William Cohen and Nancy Waples.
Justice Waples was an originator of the MLK contest during her time as head of the Diversity Section of the VBA. After some welcoming comments from her, the winners answered questions from the justices about their posters and essays and posed for photographs. Teri Corsones, true to form, supplied the group with refreshments and baked goods.
To see the artwork and to read the winning essay, and to learn more about the MLK Poster/Essay contest, see the article in the winter edition of the Vermont Bar Journal here. Below are some pictures of the award ceremony events.
Congratulations to the winners, their families, and teachers, and thanks to all who supported this year’s contest.