Record Participation in Annual Diversity Awareness Contest

Jan. 18, 2013 ~ A record number of middle and high school students from Olathe Public Schools and the Kansas School for the Deaf submitted entries for this year’s Olathe Human Relations Commission’s Celebrate Diversity contest. Last year about 2,900 entries were received, compared to 4,470 entries this year.

District Director of Activities, Athletics and Transportation Lane Green pointed to the school activity directors’ enthusiasm for the contest as a reason for three schools having more than 100 percent student participation. In many instances, students submitted entries in more than one of the three categories: essay, multi-media and visual arts.

“We had an unbelievable increase,” Green said. “This year’s theme — The Injustice of Silence — is consistent with the Rachel’s Challenge message already spreading through the district and it’s a theme every student can understand.”

The theme is based on words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Entrants were asked to depict ways to promote a society free from bullying, discrimination, and the mistreatment of others based on their race, gender, or religious beliefs.

Cash prizes ranged from $75 to $300, and a Best of Show $500 award. Financial supporters of this year’s Celebrate Diversity contest were were Sprint, James and Marti Wilson, Robert Brogden Buick/GM, Harlan C. Parker State Farm Insurance, UMB Bank, Strickland Construction, City of Olathe. The Olathe Public Library and the Martin Luther King Jr. Planning Committee were partners in this endeavor.

The winners were announced at the city's Martin Luther King Jr. mid-day celebration at Prairie Trail Middle School on Jan. 18, and recognized again at the Community Prayer Breakfast on Jan. 21.

Best of Show

  • Gabe Felter, Frontier Trail Middle School, video titled “Say Something”

Middle School Essay Category

  • First place: Morgan McBride, Chisholm Trail, poem titled “The Injustice of Silence”
  • Second place: Shulammite Lim, Frontier Trail, “Dear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
  • Third place: Emily Martin, Santa Fe Trail, “A Symbolic Symphony”

Middle School Multi-Media Category

  • First place: Gabe Felter, Frontier Trail, “Say Something”
  • Second place: Ryleigh Diskin, Frontier Trail, “Injustice of Silence”
  • Third place: Jonie Welland, California Trail, “Silence the Bully”

Middle School Visual Arts Category

  • First place: Kyle McHale, California Trail, mosaic
  • Second place: Kelly Linstra, Indian Trail, painting
  • Third place: Josie Zimmerman, Pioneer Trail, 3D piece

High School Essay Category

  • First place: Riley Gay, Olathe East, “The Value of One”
  • Second place: Samuel Edwards, Olathe East, “Silence Marks the Dead”
  • Third place: Kimberly Britton, Olathe Northwest, “The Injustice of Silence”

High School Multi-Media Category

  • First place: Katie Langton, Mattie Karr and Alec Fox, Olathe Northwest, “Injustice of Silence”
  • Second place: Joy Hauser, Olathe South, “One Time”
  • Third place: Reis Hopkins, Josh Bigbee and Keyshawn Garraway, Olathe Northwest, “Injustice of Silence”

High School Visual Arts Category

  • First place: Paige Thompson, Olathe South, “Don’t let loud cries be silenced”
  • Second place: Amy Barnes, Olathe East, “Words Withheld”
  • Third place: Kelsey Taber, Olathe North, “My Words Don’t Exist”
Kyle McHale's photo mosaic Kyle McHale’s mosaic took first place in the visual arts category for middle school. “The folded arms and pained expression on this man’s face says it all. . . This man represents the silence and the injustice of this time period. The many other pictures (that make up the overall image) are portraits that represent silence, justice, and many other pictures of the civil rights,” he wrote in his artist’s statement.
Paige Thompson's winning entry

Paige Thompson of Olathe South High School won first place in the visual arts category for her age group. She titled her piece “Don’t let loud cries be silenced.” In her artist’s statement, she wrote, “Imagine a world without strong, independent voices that lashed back against mistreatment against its peoples; a painfully silent dark earth where nobody is aware of what kind of iniquitous acts may be occurring, only shaky, whist whispers that blow away with the wind. This is what a world without people like Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks would be.”

Photos by Marlene Colgan