Five students at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center received statewide recognition for their work to promote equality.
They made a video to teach how people who look different can fight for a better tomorrow.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ‘s famous “I have a dream speech” set the foundation for a better tomorrow, and the MCCTC students are still laying the bricks.
Brianna Rotunno, Anna Chain, Avery Sandy, Juliana Schuld and Anni Maccabe are high school juniors. Each of them has seen discrimination.
Schuld said her class went on an overnight field trip, and she had a friend with a disability.
“This girl said she didn’t want to room with her because she had a disability,” Schuld said.
Hearing those words made her think of what she learned from Dr. King.
“Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us, no matter what your skin color is, we’re all the same inside,” she said.
It made her think of what Dr.King would say in that situation.
“She may have a disability, but you know, she’s still human,” Schuld said.
That lesson is a message that they all want to spread.
“We kept brainstorming about how to show that we want to raise awareness in our whole school and everywhere,” Schuld said.
That’s when they heard of a competition by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, asking Ohio high school students how they can push Dr. King’s legacy forward.
They could do anything for the competition — from designing a poster to completing a multimedia project.
They decided to spread Dr.King’s message through video with each person writing a positive message about themselves. It was followed by an important question of what people can do to continue Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s fight for equality and justice.
“Every time I watch it, I get a little choked up because it’s really heartfelt,” said Melissa Hackett, their visual arts teacher.
It was that emotion that helped them to take home first place.
“I was beyond proud of them. I knew how hard they worked,” said Hackett said.
“It took us a long time to like put it together and make it look really good,” Sandy said.
The dedication from all five students will earn them a trip to Columbus to be honored for their video by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.
“I never expected it to go this far, but we’re really happy it did,” Sandy said.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story misidentified the visual arts teacher. It has been corrected. We regret the error.