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Governor presents awards during annual celebration of Martin Luther King holiday

Twenty-one young people, five individuals and five service organizations were honored Saturday, Jan. 18, with awards from the Martin Luther King Jr. West Virginia Holiday Commission as part of the state’s observance of the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. The awards were presented by Governor Bob Wise at a luncheon at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex.

Sponsored by the Commission and the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, awards were given for the Project on Racism Essay Contest, a poster contest, the Service Organization Honor Roll and “Living the Dream” Awards.

Project on Racism Essay Contest Winners

Grades 1-5
First Place - Katherine Farmer, Grade 4, Gilbert Elementary School, Gilbert
Second Place - Rachel Blunt, Grade 5, The Country Day School, Charles Town
Third Place - Israel Varney, Grade 4, Riverside Elementary School, Williamson

Grades 6-8
First Place - Ganesh Murthy, Grade 8, John Adams Middle School, Charleston
Second Place - Heidi Chrisman, Grade 8, Musselman Middle School, Bunker Hill
Third Place - Henley Wilson, Grade 6, Princeton Middle School, Princeton

Grades 9-12
First Place - Brandon Williams, Grade 12, Mercer Christian Academy, Princeton
Second Place - Diane Kuhar, Grade 12, Mount de Chantal Academy, Wheeling
Third Place - Anthony Zappin, Grade 12, St. Joseph Central High School, Huntington

Poster Contest Winners

Grades K-2
First Place - Hannah Pino, Grade 2, St. Peter and St. Paul Catholic School, Oak Hill
Second Place - Savannah Blevins, Grade 2, St. Peter and St. Paul Catholic School, Oak Hill
Third Place - Ashton Young, Grade 1, St. Peter and St. Paul Catholic School, Oak Hill

Grades 3-5
First Place - Moriah MacDonnell, Grade 5, St. Peter and St. Paul Catholic School, Oak Hill
Second Place - Sara Boltralik, Grade 5, St. Patrick’s School, Weston
Third Place - Hannah Bartlett, Grade 3, St. Peter and St. Paul Catholic School, Oak Hill

Grades 6-8
First Place - Kim Abcouwer, Grade 8, Charleston Catholic School, Charleston
Second Place - Abigail Allen, Grade 6, St. Peter and St. Paul Catholic School, Oak Hill
Third Place - Sarah Crickenberger, Grade 8, Feed My Sheep Christian School, Philippi

Grades 9-12
First Place - Rachel Brown, Grade 12, Robert C. Byrd High School, Clarksburg
Second Place - Martina Axhall-Einarsson, Grade 12, Hannan High School, Ashton
Third Place - Elizabeth Freeman, Grade 11, Robert C. Byrd High School, Clarksburg

Service Organization Honor Roll Recipients

West Virginia Attorney General Office’s Civil Rights Team Project
Southern Appalachian Labor School
West Virginia University Minority Doctoral Scholarship Program
Opportunities Industrialization Center
East End Association

“Living the Dream” Award Recipients

Emerson Wood, Advocate of Peace Award
Shuan Butcher, Sharing of Self Award
Herman Canady, Human and Civil Rights Award
Gregory Hinton, Scholarship Award
Judge Booker Stephens, Governor’s Living the Dream Award

Prizes for the poster and essay competitions were generously donated by the West Virginia State College Foundation and the Bluefield State College Foundation. For information about the awards made Saturday or to find out how to nominate someone for next year’s awards, call the Division at (304) 558-0220, ext. 120.

The mission of the Commission is to provide programs celebrating the life and principles of King’s philosophy of non-violence, lengthening his legacy. Strengthened by diversity, the Commission draws together members who strive to create opportunity for growth, leadership and power in order to attain a common vision: peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all people.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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Ginny Painter
Director of Public Information
West Virginia Division of Culture and History
The Cultural Center
1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East
Charleston, WV 25305-0300
Phone (304) 558-0220
Fax (304) 558-2779