Nine Pinellas County students were presented awards Saturday as winners in the Pinellas County Urban League's Black-on-Black Crime Prevention Program essay contest.
Three winners were selected from each school level _ elementary, middle and high schools. The awards ceremony was at St. Petersburg Times offices.
The theme of the contest was "What person of African-American heritage do you feel has made the most impact on how you live your life today?" The Urban League received 85 entries.
Elementary school winners were Teress Monroe, a pupil at Largo Central, first place, who wrote about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Latoya Johnson, Kings Highway, second, who also wrote about King; and Stephanie Saari, Bardmoor, third, Rosa Parks.
Middle school winners were Danny Owen, a student at Riviera, first place, who wrote about baseball legend Jackie Robinson; Hunter Farley, Lealman Discovery, second, runaway counselor Theartis Scott; and Derrick Pettis, Riviera, third, educator Mary McLeod Bethune.
High school winners were Talonda Hubbard, a student at Pinellas Park, first place, who wrote about her grandmother; Swiyyah Muhammad, Dixie Hollins, second, her mother; and Vamika Watson, Pinellas Park, her mother.
Each student was given a trophy and a gift certificate from Checkers Drive-in Restaurants. The first-place winners also received a gift certificate from Camelot Music at Tyrone Square.
A special presentation of a hat autographed by St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith was made to Reid Davis, a Southside Fundamental Middle School student whose essay was about Smith. The Urban League will arrange for Reid and his family to meet Smith at a spring training game, said Kenneth L. Jones, the Urban League's crime prevention specialist.
Jones said the essays showed that "the youth are not as bad as portrayed in the media. Youth are doing a lot of good, positive things as a whole."
Contest judges were Karen Colbert, a reporter with WBHS-Ch. 50; Trenia Cox and Rick Craft, both with the city of St. Petersburg; Linda Perez, St. Petersburg Police Department; Teresa Velez, Northern Trust Bank; and Brian Wishard, Pinellas Technical Education Centers. The program featured Times columnist Peggy Peterman and poet Don Dowridge.