Freshman wins 38th annual MLK oration contest

January 13, 2015

For the first time in recent memory, a freshman student, Grace Johnson, has written the winning essay for OPRF High School’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Assembly. This year’s theme was “Where Do We Go from Here?,”  the title of a landmark speech Dr. King delivered to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1967.

In her piece, chosen from more than 30 entries, Grace questions how OPRF can move from being a “well-integrated, well-staffed, well-organized, and privileged high school” to one that reaches even further and treats all students equally. She will present her essay to the student body at back-to-back periods at 8:45 a.m. and 9:40 a.m. on Fri., Jan. 16.

For the fourth year in a row, the high school and the Oak Park Regional Housing Center (OPRHC) are partnering to sponsor the contest as a way of highlighting the community’s history and role in promoting diversity. OPRHC is sponsoring the annual prizes: $200 for first place, $100 for the second-place winner, junior Philippe LaBruyere, and $50 for the third-place winner, junior Micah Cioppa. Both Philippe and Micah will present portions of their essays during Friday’s assembly. 

The presentation of the winning essay is always a highlight of the annual assembly, which asks students and staff to reflect on Dr. King’s life, teachings, and legacy. This year’s assembly also will feature Rev. Rashaad Saffo of Maywood’s United Faith Missionary Baptist Church reading from Dr. King’s “Where Do We Go from Here?” speech.

Many thanks to the OPRHC and its executive director, Rob Breymaier, for sponsoring and judging the contest, as well as to judges John Costopoulos, Marci DiVerde, Kyle Farley, Steve Goldberg, Amy Hill, Brenden Lee, Jay Lind, Cindy Milojevic, Christine Mondragon, Veronica Muncy, Lindy Novotny, Jennifer Roth, Thaddeus Sherman, Karin Sullivan, and Gladys Wright.