On Monday, July 27th, local Philadelphia judge, Honorable Lori Dumas, arranged a celebratory car parade to honor two of our middle school students for being selected as the National Ambassadors from Philadelphia in the Stop the Violence: “Do the Write Thing” essay contest. “Do the Write Thing” is an initiative created for middle school students to have a chance to use the written form to process their experience with gun violence and to think of solutions for our city. The students, Ayanie Camacho and Elijah Vasquez, both received bicycles, $100 gift cards, Chick-fil-A gift cards, an award, t-shirts and much more! Ms. Faria and Ms. Moshier, our middle school teachers that facilitated the initiative at Esperanza, attended the celebrations as well as the Peace+Love bus, an organization against violence in the city.
Gabrielle Moshier, one of our middle school English teachers who helped facilitate the initiative at Esperanza Academy, commented that, “last year’s National Ambassador was also from Esperanza, Jadrian Muniz-Colon. He’s been able to do some amazing things since winning the contest. And will be helping host the awards ceremony coming up…” One of those amazing things that Jadrian has been able to do is to share his ideas in a round table discussion with First Assistant District Attorney for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, Robert Listenbee, as well as his staff.
Our students work is important. According to 6ABC, since the beginning of this year at least 800 people have been killed in Philadelphia due to gun violence. Elijah believes that everyone should feel safe in their neighborhood, but he does not. He urges everyone to take a stand against violence wherever possible. He writes, “We need to stop these horrid acts of violence. If you hear or see signs of violence, you need to say something. Don’t stay silent. Report all forms of abuse or violence. It doesn’t matter if it is gun violence, domestic violence, child abuse, or even animal abuse! You have to help stop these acts.”
In Ayanie’s essay, she shares an honest look with the difficulty of living without her father. “I am a 12-year-old girl who is struggling with grieving issues with the loss of my father because of gun violence. I’m so sick and tired of feeling and thinking that I’m the only kid without my dad in my life. But I’m starting to realize that I’m not because there are many kids that lose their parents because of violence,” wrote Ayanie in her essay. “Bullying, mental illness, and many other reasons can cause youth violence. Some kids might get bullied and seek revenge while others might be going through a difficult time and do something they might regret. Problems at home can also push or trigger the youth into causing an act of violence.”
We commend all of our students who submitted an essay. It takes courage to write openly and honestly about a painful issue in our city that has affected many of them personally. We hope and pray that together we can work towards a future of peace in our city, where issues can be resolved without violence.
This Friday, July 31st, everyone is welcome to tune into the “Do the Write Thing” Facebook page from 2-3 pm to see a livestream of the virtual ceremony recognizing our finalists and semi-finalists. Many middle school students will be honored:
The Two 2020 Philadelphia National Ambassadors for this year:
Of the Ten Finalists 5 were from Esperanza:
Of the Twenty Semifinalists 14 were from Esperanza:
Lia Marie De la Rosa
Joseph Lantigua Calderon
Joshua Lantingua Calderón