Enthusiasm Grows in Diversity Awareness Competition

Jan. 21, 2014 ~ Participation in the citywide Celebrate Diversity contest reached another all-time high this year, with 5,806 entries in visual arts, written work, and multi-media. This year's theme was "Rising Above Yourself."

In a 1957 speech in Montgomery, Ala., Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. And this is one of the big problems of life; that so many people never quite get to the point of rising above self. And so they end up the tragic victims of self-centeredness."

"We saw tremendous growth in the number of entries," said Director of Athletics, Activities and Safe and Drug-free Schools Lane Green. "Credit goes to our school activity directors who do an incredible job promoting the contest in their schools. The themes are another reason for the growth in participation. Students have a tremendous amount of leeway to share their creative talents while celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."

The 2014 contest is the sixth consecutive year of growth for the project that began in 2001 with only a dozen entries.

Cash prizes ranged from $75 to $300, and a Best of Show $500 award. Financial supporters of this year's Celebrate Diversity contest were Robert Brogden Buick/GMC, Olathe Ford/Lincoln, James and Marti Wilson, Harlan C. Parker and Jason S. Parker State Farm Insurance, Strickland Construction, the City of Olathe, and the Olathe Public Library. The Olathe Human Relations Commission and the Olathe Public Schools were partners in this year's endeavor.

The winners were announced at the city's Martin Luther King Jr. celebration and awards ceremony at Olathe Northwest High School on Jan. 16.

Best of Show:

Trinity Ozias, Frontier Trail, multi-media entry, "Change"

Middle School Written Work:

  • First place – Erin Woster, Pioneer Trail, "Rising Above Yourself"
  • Second place – Callie Avondet, Prairie Trail, "Unleashing Greatness"
  • Third place (tie) – Kali Ray, Indian Trail, "An Existence that Blossomed into Something"
  • Third place (tie) – Brett Taylor, Mission Trail, "A Trek through the Forest"

Middle School Multi-Media:

  • First place – Trinity Ozias, Frontier Trail, "Change"
  • Second place – Kale Sheffer, Frontier Trail, "K.C. Rescue Mission"
  • Third place – Jonathan Schwarz's Communications Media class, Chisholm Trail, "Rachel's Challenge"

Middle School Visual Arts:

  • First place – Sixty-six students, Pioneer Trail, "Sole-ful Thoughts"
  • Second place – Claire Barnhart, Pioneer Trail, "As King Dreams"
  • Third place – Payton Storch, Frontier Trail, "Rising Above Yourself"

High School Written Work:

  • First place – Nicholas Robless, Olathe Northwest, "World without Borders"
  • Second place – Kayla Nguyen, Olathe North, "Rising Above Yourself: In Honor of Jaylen Walker"
  • Third place – Joshalyn Lee, Olathe North, "Tonight We are Young"

High School Multi-Media:

  • First place – Keyshawn Garraway, Olathe Northwest, "MDA Camp"
  • Second place – Elizabeth Ward, Olathe South, ""Rising Above Yourself"
  • Third place – Annabelle Felter, Olathe South, "One Day"

High School Visual Arts:

  • First place – Bailey Hockett, Olathe South, "The Simple Representation of Donation"
  • Second place – Emma Davis, Olathe South, "Rising Above Yourself"
  • Third place – Sydney Torrez, Olathe South, "Rising Above Yourself"
Sole-ful Thoughts entry

Sixty-six students at Pioneer Trail Middle School collaborated on “Sole”ful Thoughts to earn first place in the middle school visual arts category. Students wrote thoughts on the soles of shoes and hung them from the hallway ceiling. Some of their comments include: “The floating shoes symbolize rising above yourself” and “I’ve never done a project that was so important to the school” and “I feel as if I am part of something bigger. I wonder how people will react to it.”

Martin Luther King Jr. quotation

Claire Barnhart of Pioneer Trail took second place in the middle school visual arts category with her drawing and quotation. “I chose to title this drawing As King Dreams because it appears he is thinking of peace as the dove sweeps past. . . I thought it seemed as if all Dr. King wanted was peace for everyone, but first you must rise above yourself,” Barnhart wrote about her entry.

Textile entry

“I really believe that if you open your heart and you are willing to accept others despite your differences, you will be a star,” Payton Storch wrote in his artist’s statement. The Frontier Trail Middle School student took third place in the middle school visual arts category with this textile entry.

Pencil drawing

This pencil drawing by Bailey Hockett of Olathe South won first place in the high school visual arts category. “The central focus of my drawing is of open hands to signify giving. Each item in the hands represents various ways of giving,” Hockett wrote in her artist’s statement.

Martin Luther King Jr. silhouette

Emma Davis of Olathe South High School won second place in the high school visual arts category. “By having Martin Luther King hold a single person who is lifting up tons of other people fighting for their rights, I demonstrated how the events a single person is part of can impact other people,” Davis write in her artist’s statement.

Colorful collage

Olathe South student Sydney Torrez won third place in the high school visual arts category. “All these words could have a completely different meaning to each person in the world, but these words I have written on my piece are something (with) deep meaning to me, and things I would love to accomplish throughout my life,” Torrez wrote of her entry.

Photos by Marlene Colgan