The two students’ anti-violence essays were chosen from among more than 1,100 essays submitted from 15 Shelby County Schools participating in the nationwide challenge.
The announcement was made at a banquet Thursday at Hope Church at 8500 Walnut Grove Road. Minister Matt Hannah provided the students with an inspirational spoken word performance.
“This is something I get to look forward to every year,” Gen. Weirich told the 28 finalists who were accompanied by parents, guardians and teachers. “It’s you who define Shelby County. Challenge yourself every second of the day to do the right thing. That’s your homework from the D.A.”
Mei Mei Gray is an eighth-grade student at Collierville Middle School. DeVonte’ Brown is a seventh-grade student at Sherwood Middle School.
They will be accompanied by one parent and their school teacher on their trip to Washington in July, said Megan Pietrowski, local coordinator of the program and special assistant to DA Weirich, the program’s chair.
Essays in the Do the Write Thing Challenge examine the impact of youth violence on the students’ lives and explore what should be done to change the culture of violence.
The DTWT Challenge is an initiative of the National Campaign to Stop the Violence.
By encouraging students to make personal commitments to do something about the problem, the program seeks to help them break the cycles of violence in their homes, schools and neighborhoods.
Students from the University of Memphis Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice reviewed the essays and selected the 28 finalists who were honored at the banquet.
A local selection committee then chose two ambassadors to represent Shelby County in the national challenge.
The DTWT Challenge is sponsored by the Kuwait-America Foundation which aims to strengthen ties between the peoples of the United States and Kuwait.