Lensi Parham is winning essay writer

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In the spring of last school year, Jefferson-Craig fifth grade teacher Konna Padgett asked her class to participate in an essay writing contest as part of a class project.

The essays were part of the “Kids of King” essay contest, which was being held in conjunction with the establishment of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The assignment was to write a short essay of no more than 75 words about Dr. King and the student’s own dreams for a better America.

On the first day of school this year, Lensi Parham, a student in Konna Padgett’s class then and now a sixth grader at Switzerland County Middle School, arrived home to find a large box in her driveway.

“I brought her home from school and she said ‘there’s a box in the driveway, don’t hit it,” mom Crystal Parham said about her daughter. “We didn’t know what it was, but when we opened it, we discovered that she was a winner.”

What was in that box in the Parham’s driveway was an announcement that Lensi Parham’s essay was one of 12 across the nation that had been selected as a winner in the essay contest.

In a letter from Harry E. Johnson, Sr., president and CEO of the “Build the Dream” Foundation, which is spearheading the construction of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Project; Lensi Parham found out that she and a parent will be flown to Washington, D.C. in November to be honored guests and the official groundbreaking ceremony.

“If Dr. King were alive he’d be very proud of you because he dedicated his life so young people like yourself could live in a better world,” Harry Johnson’s letter said. “We are very much looking forward to meeting you in November to tell you how wonderful your essay was and how much it meant to us at the Foundation. You should be very proud.”

Also in the box was a plaque, tee-shirt, and several other items that had been sent to each winner.

“I remember Lensi’s essay because in it she said that she hoped that she would set an example by never judging a human being just by looking at the color of their skin,” Konna Padgett said. “All of the fifth graders had to write the essay, but Lensi’s was really exceptional.”

“I’m really excited about all of this,” Lensi Parham said. “I am looking forward to going to Washington and seeing everything and being a part of the groundbreaking ceremony.”

She said that the groundbreaking ceremony will be held on Monday, November 13th, and that her mom will be going with her as her official chaperone, although she hopes that dad Joe Parham will go along, as well.

The Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial is a $100 million project, and will be situated across the Tidal Basin from the Jefferson Memorial, just down from the Lincoln Memorial, where Dr. King stood while addressing thousands of men and women who marched on Washington in the early 1960s.

The site was approved in 1999, and the foundation has been raising private donations to fund the project since that time.

The memorial will use landscape elements to convey three recurring themes of Dr. King’s life: justice, democracy, and hope.

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Sadly, the one item that cannot be shared – at least until November – is the essay itself.

Konna Padgett said that she did not keep copies of the essays that were submitted, and since she wrote the essay by hand, it’s also not saved in the Parham family computer.

“We’re looking forward to seeing it again in Washington,” Crystal Parham said.

Lensi Parham is the daughter of Joe and Crystal Parham of near Vevay. Congratulations on this wonderful achievement.