Among those in attendance will be Lisa Cone, director of program expansion for the National Campaign to Stop Violence of which DTWT is a part. The 13th annual DTWT recognition ceremony will be at 6 p.m. at Hope Presbyterian Church at 8500 Walnut Grove Road in Cordova, and will include the students’ families, teachers and principals from the 15 participating Shelby County Schools.
"We are so honored to have Lisa Cone from the national organization in Washington attending our program tonight and meeting with our students," said Gen. Weirich. "This is a first for our program."
This year more than 1,600 essays were submitted for the DTWT national initiative that aims to break the cycle of violence in homes, schools and neighborhoods. The students’ essays address the impact of youth violence on the students’ lives and what should be done to change the culture of violence.
Two students will be chosen as ambassadors representing Shelby County in July in the DTWT Challenge National Recognition Ceremony in Washington. Their winning essays will be published Friday in The Commercial Appeal and will be archived in the Library of Congress.
The keynote speaker will be Fletcher Cleaves, a former football player at Lambuth University who was injured in a car accident in 2009 and was paralyzed from the chest down. He has turned that tragedy into a career as a motivational speaker while earning a degree in computer science from the University of Memphis.
Sponsors of the DTWT include Hope Presbyterian, the Grizzlies Foundation, the Kuwait-America Foundation, Nucor Memphis Community Outreach and Southwest Airlines.
The DA's office organizes, coordinates and promotes the essay challenge, and seeks sponsors for the awards banquet.