Photo by Jeylin White
Sade Harper, an 8th-grader at Mundy’s Mill Middle School, won an essay competition sponsored by The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, based in Atlanta. She received a $1,000 savings bond, presented to her by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.
It was the encouragement of a teacher, and the potential of winning a prize, that inspired Sade Harper to enter the “Read It. Embrace It. Express It” essay competition, sponsored by the National Center for Civil and Human Rights (NCCHR).
“My language arts teacher, Ms. [Natassia] Carswell, told us about the essay competition in class,” said Harper. However, not many students were jumping at the opportunity, added Harper.
With some hesitation in the beginning, Harper said she convinced herself it was something worth trying. So, Harper decided to take on the challenge. “I didn’t mind writing about human rights, so I just tried it,” said the eighth-grader at Mundy’s Mill Middle School.
Well, the challenge was worth it. Through an e-mail from Doug Shipman, CEO of NCCHR, Harper has been told her essay won the competition.
“We are proud to congratulate you and recognize you for your amazing accomplishment,” said Shipman, in the e-mail to Harper.
Harper’s principal, Derrick Dalton, said he was not surprised by her win. “Sade is one of our school’s leaders,” he said. “She’s an excellent student ... she has a warm personality ... she is going to be successful.”
Harper’s essay was selected as tops among the five submitted by middle school students this year, according to Shipman. He noted that more than 150 metro-Atlanta middle and high school students participated in this year’s essay competition, and only eight submissions were chosen –– three from high school pupils, and five from middle school students.
“I was so excited,” said Harper, “I was like, I won!” She said she was a little shocked, because the NCCHR was a week late in informing the winners.
“I thought I had lost, at first, because they told us they were going to let us know a week before I got the e-mail,” the youngster said.
NCCHR is non-for-profit organization, based in Atlanta. Its mission is “to continue the universal search for a secure human existence in a way that inspires vigilance and leadership among future generations.”
And its vision is to “present the evolving global human rights story and commemorate the historical struggle for African-American equality –– the lessons and strategies of which are embraced everyday by groups striving for freedom,” according to the group’s web site.
Isha Lee, communication director for NCCHR, said the student essays had to be based on their understanding of the universal declaration of human rights, interpretation of the articles of human rights, and how they would apply it to their lives.
“The [judges] were looking for creativity and writing ability,” Lee said.
Harper wrote about what young people could do to get involved with human rights and become more knowledgeable about the universal declaration of human rights.
“We need to learn about [the universal declaration of human rights] in school, and teachers need to bring it up in class,” she said. Her win, she added, has inspired her to research human rights organizations in the Clayton County area, in an effort to volunteer, and “make a difference.”
Harper was not the only eight-grader from Clayton County, who won in the essay competition. Erin Schillings, of M.D. Roberts Middle School, also won. She could not be reached for comment, however.
Essay winners were treated to a luncheon, Thursday, hosted by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, in the council chambers at Atlanta City Hall. Winners were presented with electronic saving bonds for $1,000, by The Ford Motor Co., who partnered with NCCHR for this year’s competition.