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Students have the write stuff

ENTHUSIASM: Participants from Hollydale Primary School who submitted the most entries

SCHOOLCHILDREN FROM as far as Birmingham travelled to London to be acknowledged for their participation in The Voice’s inaugural Made By History essay-writing competition this week.

Over 80 students, parents and teachers gathered at the iconic Imperial War Museum on November 30 to be presented with certificates celebrating their hard work and tributes to black heroes from the past.

Launched in October, Made By History was a month-long competition open to 9 to 12-year-olds who were asked to share what black history meant to them.

The response was overwhelming, with entries coming from a culturally diverse cross-section of students from schools in London and Birmingham.

“Black history is all our history. It is human history,” read an extract from 11-year-old winner Denise Lawrence, a pupil from Deptford Green School in south London.

Denise walked away with a £50 high-street voucher for her entry, which paid tribute to figures such as civil rights leaders Dr Martin Luther King Jr, C.L.R. James, Rosa Parks and US President Barack Obama.

Young Denise said she was inspired by her grandparents and “my family in Jamaica”, but “didn’t really think I would win” after hearing the submissions by other pupils.

“All of the other people that read theirs out were really good so I was doubtful,” she said. “When they said my name both my mouth and my mum’s mouth just opened wide.”

Due to the sheer numbers and quality of entries, The Voice opened up the pool of winners to include the Best Essay from each age category, as well as an overall winner and a special commendation for the most inspirational essay.

Luqman Omari, who won in the 10-year-old category, said: “I feel really happy but it’s not just about winning, it’s about doing something. Even if you haven’t won, you shouldn’t be upset, you can still learn from what you’ve done.”


PARTICIPATING: Luqman Omari applauds his peers

The Ranelagh Primary School pupil, who has a passion for black history, was encouraged by his dad to enter the competition.

He added: “If you have knowledge of black history, you have better awareness of yourself and it can encourage you to do better than the people who came before you.”

Aspiring author, Paris Walters, of Holyhead School in Birmingham, was crowned the winner of the 12-year-old category.

She said: “It was a long journey, but it was worth it. It’s fun to win especially seeing how good a lot of the essays were. Black history is important because it reminds people of what we’ve been through and why it’s so important to treat people equally.”

IMPORTANT

Veronica Anthrobus, a teacher from Paris’ school, said she had missed seeing her Year 11 students sit exams to attend.

“That’s how important we see black history and celebrating black culture for our students,” she said. “Though it was quite costly to bring just five students, it was important for our kids.”

Lula Powell, whose heartfelt essay about her grandfather’s role in fighting for Eritrea’s independence and her mother’s own childhood as a refugee won in the Most Inspirational category, said: “I just came today to participate and hear some of the other essays. I am really happy and I think my mum deserved to be mentioned in that way.”


TOP TALENT: (l-r) Paulette Simpson, director of The Voice, with winners Paris Williams, Lula Powell, Denise Lawrence and Luqman Omari

The event, which started at 10am and finished at 1pm, was attended by students from Montbelle Primary School in Sidcup, Hollydale Primary School in Nunhead, Deptford Green High School, Claremont High and Uxendon Manor Primary School both in Harrow and Holyhead Secondary School in Birmingham. Students were presented with certificates of participation, a goody bag and were shown a video about the black contribution to post-war Britain by Helena Stride, head of learning at the Imperial War Museum.

Stride said: “We were delighted to host the prize giving for the Made In History competition and it was very moving to hear the winning entries from the young people, with their heart felt ideas regarding the importance of learning about and promoting black cultural heritage. I hope that young people taking part next year will come and explore the archives at Imperial War Museums and highlight some of the remarkable stories we have in our collections.”

SUCCESS

Paulette Simpson, director of The Voice, who chaired the event, added: “The inaugural Made By History event was a resounding success; it was a pleasure for us to be surrounded by such a diverse range of enthusiastic and intelligent young people, who thought deeply about what they wanted to say.

“The winners showed great confidence in reading out their essays to the group and we look forward to having an even bigger event next year.”

THE WINNERS:

BEST ESSAY (AGE 9)
Tavari Rocco, Hollydale Primary School (Southwark)

BEST ESSAY (AGE 10)
Luqman Omari, Ranelagh Primary School (Newham)

BEST ESSAY (AGE 11)
Raju Shrestha, Oldfield Primary School (Ealing)

BEST ESSAY (AGE 12+)
Paris Williams, Holyhead School (Handsworth)

MOST INSPIRATIONAL
Lula Powell, Jubilee Primary School (Lambeth)

OVERALL WINNER
Denise Lawrence, Deptford Green School

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