First-grader wins national award, reads to class

Benjamin Wheeler (above) was the winner of a recent essay contest on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Benjamin read his essay to friends in his first-grade class at Stallings Elementary, and received a plaque and pizza party for his efforts. Photo courtesy UCPS

STALLINGS – Benjamin Wheeler got to spend a little time as teacher recently when he read his award-winning essay on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to his classmates at Stallings Elementary School.

Benjamin’s essay on “What Dr. Martin Luther King Means to Me” took first place in the Hormel Foods Corporation contest aimed at promoting King’s legacy to future generations. Though a number of essays at the school were considered top notch, Benjamin’s stood out above the rest.

“Ben’s message was simple, but very poignant in that, as a first-grader, he gets it,” Janice Deane, an instructional assistant at the school, said in a news release. “He just wants everyone to get along no matter what their skin color.”

“I liked how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream about how all people should be friends even though they are different colors,” Benjamin said in the release. “I think people are all colors and that they should be friends, too. I love to write, and the people that I drew with my story were wearing all kinds of different colors.”

Here’s a portion of the award-winning essay: “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. means a lot to me. He had a dream that all people would be friends. He wanted all people to be nice to each other. I believe that all people should be nice to each other, too. I wish he was alive today. I promise to try to be like him and be nice to everybody. It doesn’t matter what color you are. We should all be friends.”

For winning, Benjamin got $50, an award plaque and was featured in Hormel communications to employees and stockholders.

But the best part of winning may have been the pizza party Benjamin earned for his class.

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