JOHN WARREN, a writer, orator and fifth-grader at Dr. Bernard Harris Sr. Elementary School, strode to the lectern to read his winning entry in a contest to honor the memory of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Coolly looking out on an auditorium packed with 500 fellow students from 12 city elementary schools, John began: "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had many dreams for all people of the world. He wanted all children to hold hands and be friends. Dr. King believed that everyone should be more like brothers and sisters. . ."
When John was done, it was time to collect his prizes: a gift certificate, a mayoral medal, a certificate noting his achievement, and a $100 savings bond, courtesy of Prudential Health Care Plan, sponsor of the ninth annual contest.
John was among 16 students honored at a special assembly yesterday for their essays and posters depicting the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King.
The gathering, held in the auditorium of Harford Heights Elementary School, featured an upbeat speech from WBAL-TV anchorman Rod Daniels, remarks from Prudential officials, a few selections from the Harford Heights band -- and, of course, a showing and reading of the prize-winning work.
Tria Hopkins, another student at Harris elementary, took second place in the essay contest. And while her effort celebrated the King legacy, it also talked about the violence plaguing Baltimore and America's other major cities.
". . . Dr. King influenced many people," she wrote. "If he were living today, I believe he would still have the power to lead and solve problems. While writing this essay, my mother and I were disturbed because of someone being shot one door away from '' ours. In this generation we have deadly diseases, children being shot on their front doorsteps, and genocide . . . In spite of it all, Dr. King's dream will live on."
Tria, who lives on East Federal Street, said it took her "almost a week" to write her essay and whip it into its final form.
"I'm excited," she said, after reading her essay. "But I was a little nervous reading it."
Jamison Dorsey, another Harris student, won the poster contest with a work which featured a likeness of King at a lectern and a world map highlighted with images of different races of people. Chenice Brunson of Charles Carroll of Carrollton Elementary School, took second place in the poster competition.
The winners in each category were selected from about 500 entries submitted by students from 12 city elementary schools.
"This is great," said Harford Heights principal Clifton Ball. "It helps to show that boys and girls in our city are in fact together."