The panel of judges selected Nancy Guandique and Justin Baker to represent Shelby County at the DTWT National Recognition Ceremony this summer in Washington, D.C.
Baker, an 8th grader at Schilling Farms Middle School and Guandique, also an 8th grader at Hickory Ridge Middle School wrote anti-violence essays that stood out from over 1200 submitted in this year’s DTWT Challenge.
Hickory Ridge Middle School and Schilling Farms Middle School students have participated in each of the DTWT Challenges over the past ten years.
Guandique, as a 7th grader, achieved perfect attendance at Hickory Middle School during the 2013-14 school year and earned a free bicycle from the Hyde Foundation and Cambridge Construction in the D.A.’s “Bikes for Perfect Attendance” program. As Guandique accepted the bicycle during the bike award ceremony in June last year, she asked D.A. Weirich if it would be ok if she gave the bicycle to her younger brother.
Hickory Ridge Middle School is also one of the schools in the D.A.’s Truancy Reduction Program.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Challenge here in Shelby County.
"All of these students become part of our family at the District Attorney’s Office,” said District Attorney General Weirich. “We are thrilled to see each of them grow and continue to be an example for others.”
Both students’ essays will be featured in the Commercial Appeal’s Easter Sunday edition (April 5th).
The banquet also honored the “DTWT Ambassadors” selected locally over the past ten years.
Chase Woodard, an 8th grader at Cordova Middle School, was selected last year as ambassador for the 2014 National Challenge. He was also among the finalists for this year’s Challenge.
Students from the University of Memphis Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice read the essays and selected 39 to be honored at Thursday’s Banquet.
The final selection committee then reviewed the essays and selected two to represent Shelby County in the National Challenge.
This year’s finalist selection committee included Shelby County General Sessions Judge Loyce Lambert Ryan, U.S. District Judge John Thomas Fowlkes, Family Safety Center co-founder Linda Miller, Golden United Methodist Church Senior Minister Charles Elliott, Black Business Association President Roby S. Williams and Shelby County Assistant District Attorneys Lora Fowler, Trayce Jones and Rebekka Freeman.
Corporate partners were Cambridge Construction Management, Inc., Video Industrial Services, Inc., Hope Church, Southwest Airlines and the Commercial Appeal.
The DTWT Challenge is an initiative of the National Campaign to Stop Violence (NCSV) designed to give middle school students the opportunity to examine the impact of youth violence on their lives and to communicate in writing what they think should be done to change the culture of violence. Personal responsibility is emphasized.
By encouraging students to make personal commitments to do something about the problem, the program ultimately seeks to help them break the cycles of violence in their homes, schools and neighborhoods.
Middle School students across the nation participate by making a commitment not to be involved in violence and to write an essay.
The National Do the Write Thing Challenge is sponsored by the Kuwait-America Foundation with the core mission to strengthen ties between the peoples of the United States and Kuwait.