Second-grade teacher Susan Rueckle at Mendoza Elementary School in east Mesa has two award-winning writers in her classroom who understand the dream of Martin Luther King Jr.
Mendoza student Trenton Green, 8, won first place in a King essay contest sponsored by Arizona State University, and 7-year-old classmate Austin Lynn won third place. Jared Eaton, a second-grader at Benjamin Franklin East Elementary School in Mesa, won second place in the primary category.
Chaparral High School sophomores in Scottsdale swept the secondary essay category, with Catherine Dodge placing first, Gabriela Ramirez second, and Jessica Morse and Sheree Hollis tying for third.
The students will join 31 winners at a celebration breakfast Jan. 28 at ASU. ASU President Michael Crow will present savings bonds and ribbons to the winners.
Overall, about 1,500 students submitted essays or posters describing people they know who lead through service.
Trenton wrote about his late grandmother, Patti Bonior. "She used to make the most awesome oatmeal!! My Nana taught me right from wrong," the essay says.
Austin wrote about his grandfather, a war veteran "who loves his country very much."
Other winners from the East Valley included students at Mesa Junior High and Benjamin Franklin West Elementary schools in Mesa, Copper Ridge and Mountainside middle schools in Scottsdale, and Colina Elementary and Altadena Middle schools in Ahwatukee Foothills.
Winning essays and posters may be viewed at www.asu.edu/mlk