Gov. Phil Scott honored the winners of the VBA 2024 Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School Poster/Essay contest at a ceremony at the State House on Feb. 1. The contest, sponsored annually by the Young Lawyers Division and the Diversity Section, challenged Vermont middle schoolers to write an essay and illustrate Dr. King’s quotation: “We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.”
Each year the judges choose a first-place winner, a first runner-up, and a second runner-up. This year each of the winners was part of a team of two. First place went to Ankita Dungara and Aili Olson, 7th graders at Winooski Middle School. The team of Astrid Longstreth and Riley Ayer, 8th graders at Camels Hump Middle School took the first runners-up prize and the second runners-up were Marissa Earle-Centers and Eliza Stanton, 5th graders at Main Street Middle School in Montpelier. All six girls were present with family and their teachers to receive their awards from the Gov. (To see the posters and read the essays, click here).
The presentation took place at the Gov.’s weekly coffee hour in his Ceremonial Office. A large group of visitors from the public and state government were on hand along with VBA Pres. Judith Dillon, Justice Nancy Waples – who originated the contest seven years ago when she was head of the VBA Diversity Section– current Diversity Section Chair Alfonso Villegas, Executive Director Bob Paolini, and Court Administrator Teri Corsones. Corsones is a former VBA Executive Director of the VBA and was also involved in starting the contest and continues to support it. Both Dillon and Waples shared some words about the contest with the winners and the crowd before the Gov. heard from each team about the inspiration behind their contest entry and presented the awards. A traveling trophy will now spend the year at Winooski Middle School, the home school of first-place winners
Following their meeting with the Gov., 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. The group enjoyed refreshments provided by Corsones and met with Justices Karen Carol, Harold Eaton, and Nancy Waples. After discussing their entries and inspirations with the Justices, the winners were invited into the courtroom to try out having a seat on the bench.
Congratulations to the winners, their families, and teachers, and thanks to all who supported this year’s contest.