CHARLESTON, W.Va. The Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs (HHOMA) will host an award ceremony to celebrate the student winners of the Project on Racism Contest and 39th Annual Poster Competition. The ceremony can be viewed Saturday, Jan. 14 at 12 p.m. on HHOMA’s Facebook page or on Monday, Jan. 23 at 7:30 p.m. from WV Public Broadcasting, the West Virginia Channel.

“The young people in our state have creativity and passion for the arts,” said HHOMA Executive Director and Martin Luther King Jr. State Holiday Commission Chair Jill Upson. “We are honored to take part in recognizing them, what they have to say and what they have achieved.”

Essays | Music | Film

The Project on Racism Contest was presented by the Martin Luther King Jr. State Holiday Commission and the YWCA Wheeling. Entries were accepted for essays, music, and five-minute films and was open to any student from grades 1-12 attending public, private, parochial, or home school in West Virginia.

All entries focused on the following quote from Martin Luther King Jr.:  “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

Award recipients for each category are listed below.

Grade K-5

1st Place 

Easton Shrewsbury

Pineville Elementary School, 3rd Grade

2nd Place

Spencer Benedict 

Bethlehem Elementary, 4th Grade

3rd Place 

Kai’Veah Miles-Banks

Madison Elementary School, 5th Grade

Grade 6-8

1st Place 

Amelia Copney

Triadelphia Middle School, 7th Grade

2nd Place 

Brenna Tipton

Triadelphia Middle School, 7th Grade

3rd Place

Finnegan Gilbert

Triadelphia Middle School 7th Grade

Grade 9-12

1st Place 

Char Canestraro

Wheeling Central Catholic High School, 12th Grade

2nd Place

Peyton Smith

Wheeling Central Catholic High School, 12th Grade

3rd Place 

Payton Hildebrand

Wheeling Central Catholic High School, 12th Grade

Film Award Recipients

K-5th Grade

1st Place

Ellie Breitenger

West Liberty Elementary

2nd Place 

Maddy Johnston

West Liberty Elementary

3rd Place 

Lily Och & Abigail Sonda

West Liberty Elementary

Grade 9-12

1st Place

Wheeling Central Catholic High School

2nd Place

Wheeling Park High School

Song Award Recipients

1st Place

Anthony Smith

Wheeling Park High School, 12th Grade

2nd Place

Triton Brown, Mason Donaldson, Konner Hunter, Wyatt O’Hara

West Liberty Elementary

Poster Artwork

The Martin Luther King Jr. State Holiday Commission and the Beta Beta Omega Chapter, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, presented the 39th annual poster competition.

West Virginia students from grades K-12 entered the poster competition. The art focused on the following quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Poster award recipients:

Grade 9-12

1st Place

Serenity G. Torres

Scott High School, 12th Grade

2nd Place

Liam J. Sadler

Huntington High School, 10th Grade

3rd Place 

Carter Adam Browning

Lincoln County High School, 9th Grade

Grade 3-5

1st Place

Easton Griffith, 5th Grade

Herndon Consolidated Elementary School

2nd Place

Kennedy G. Blankenship, 3rd Grade

Pineville Elementary

3rd Place  

Jaclyn Simpson, 5th Grade 

Herndon Consolidated Elementary School

Grade K-2

1st Place

Westson J. Smith, 2nd Grade Pineville Elementary

2nd Place 

Paisley B. Paynter, 2nd Grade

Berlin McKinney Elementary 

3rd Place 

Nicholle Faith Browning, 2nd Grade

Berlin McKinney Elementary

Mixed Media 

Grade 9-12

1st Place 

Elizabeth F. Williams 

Independence High School, 11th Grade 

2nd Place 

Ethan P. Watts 

Point Pleasant High School, 9th Grade 

3rd Place 

Brycen A. Morris Point Pleasant High School, 12th grade