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Governor presents awards during weekend celebration of 2002 Martin Luther King holiday

Nine young people and five service organizations were honored Saturday with awards from the West Virginia Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission as part of the state’s observance of the Martin Luther King day 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 annual Project on Racism Essay Contest and the First “Living the Dream” Service Organization Honor Roll.

More than 1,110 students from 25 counties entered the essay contest. This year’s theme was “If I Could Change the World.” The essay contest was sponsored in conjunction with the YWCA of Wheeling. Winners were:

Grades 1-5
First Place - Amanda Young, Grade 4, Woodsdale Elementary, Wheeling
Second Place - Danielle Deskins, Grade 4, Riverside Elementary, Williamson
Third Place - Jessica Mullins, Grade 2, Herndon Consolidated, Bud

Grades 6-8
First Place - Abbey Martin, Grade 8, Elkins Middle School, Elkins
Second Place - Kayla Way, Grade 8, Lumberport Middle School, Lumberport
Third Place - Mary Heath, Grade 8, John Adams Junior High, Charleston

Grades 9-12
First Place - Ashley Adamovich, Grade 11, Wheeling Park High School, Wheeling
Second Place - Melissa Kreitzer, Grade 11, Wheeling Park High School, Wheeling
Third Place - Justin Forzano, Grade 11, Wheeling Park High School, Wheeling

Five state groups were recognized with the Commission’s First “Living the Dream” Service Organization Honor Roll for their contributions and dedication to helping others. Honorees included:

American Red Cross - A humanitarian organization providing relief to victims of disaster and helping to prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.

Highland Educational Project - A McDowell County faith-based non-profit that offers, among other things, a home repair program, meals for the hungry, and programs to develop basic educational skills.

Mountaineer Habitat for Humanity - An ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing through the use of volunteer labor and donated materials and money.

West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence - An organization committed to the elimination of violence against women, children and men through a strong network of shared resources and support.

West Virginia National Guard - The oldest component of the U.S. Armed Forces, the National Guard has a dual mission of training and equipping units to protect life and property at home, as well as defending the country and its interests all over the globe.

In April, the Commission will present awards to five West Virginians who best exemplify the principles characterizing King in his pursuit of social change. For information about the awards made Saturday or to find out how to nominate someone for April 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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