Hurley Ranch 6th Grader wins

Hurley Ranch 6th Grader wins second place in ASU MLK essay contest
Posted on 02/03/2022
ASU MLK Essay winner

At a very young age Hurley Ranch’s Kym Smith already knows what gets his motor running.

 “My motivation in life is to help people,” the sixth grader said.

It seemed natural, then, for him to write about helping a neighbor in an essay he submitted to Arizona State University’s Martin Luther King Day essay contest. Smith’s story of helping a neighbor whose son was struck with cancer was good enough to take second place.

Smith admits he’s probably better at math than writing, but he still makes time to practice his writing through journaling.

“I love writing in my free time,” Smith said. “I journal about how my day is going and what I want to be when I grow up.”

While he was surprised to be awarded for his essay, Smith said it was fitting that it came in a challenge that honors the late civil rights movement leader.

“Dr. King influenced me a lot. Knowing what he did helps me to be a better person and inspires me to fight for my community,” Smith said, “[At the ceremony] I was smiling the whole time. I thought of my mom and dad and my teacher. They all inspire me to work hard.”

That’s exactly what teacher Patricia Meador had hoped for when she suggested her students enter the contest. “I don’t have to push them that hard,” she said. “They push themselves.”

Meador, who has supplemented her income as a freelance writer for years, sees writing as a way for her students to build life-long skills. “It broadens students’ thinking capabilities, and most importantly writing gives them a voice.”

“My teacher is always pushing me to do better,” Smith said. “So there will be more stories coming.”


The Corner Store Worker

When I was in kindergarten I would visit the corner store with my father. We would go there every day when I got out of school.A man named Ricky worked there. One day, Ricky told us he was starting a T-shirt business on the side and gave me a free one.

Eventually, Ricky became close friends with my dad and me. Sometimes, he would even give us free snacks. I like that a lot! One day, Rick seemed very sad. When we asked him what was wrong, he said he had just found out that his son had cancer. The whole community rallied around Ricky and Kyle including my dad and me. In six months Ricky’s son, Kyle, beat cancer! We were so happy for him.

Ricky taught me many things such as “be grateful for what you have.” More importantly,  he modeled perseverance and positivity for the whole community. When people would ask him about Kyle, he would thank them and ask how they were doing too. When his son was well, Ricky started an annual ‘fun run’ to raise awareness and money for others in the neighborhood who were struggling with cancer. It became a very successful charity. Ricky did not stop there, though. He turned his attention to the homeless and now raised funds for both causes. He has helped over 100 people find housing and jobs. He is an inspiration to me. 

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