MAYS LANDING, N.J. — Atlantic City Electric, in partnership with B’nai B’rith International, recently held a judging panel roundtable for the Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge.
A diverse panel of judges met at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey to exchange feedback and critique the top 10 submissions of children’s books written by local high school students. The winning author will be announced at an awards ceremony May 29, and have his or her book professionally published and receive a college scholarship.
Students from 35 local high schools wrote and submitted a total of 75 children’s books. The writing challenge gives local high school students a chance to write and illustrate original books to help grade-school children celebrate tolerance and diversity.
“We are pleased to partner with B’nai B’rith International to support this important initiative to help educate young people,” said Vince Maione, region president, Atlantic City Electric. “This program helps teach children to respect and appreciate the differences in others and how to solve problems constructively.”
Judges included Vince Maione, region president, Atlantic City Electric; DiAnne C. Gove, assemblywoman, Legislative District 9; Michelle Gentek, freeholder, Camden County; E. Marie Hayes, freeholder, Cape May County; Frank X. Balles, sheriff, Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office; Alex Marino, director, Carnegie Center and assistant to the Provost, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey; Priscilla Ocasio-Jimenez, principal, Pittsgrove Middle Schools; Fola Adebi, executive director, Wow! Science Camp; Bill Horin, founder and creative director, ArtC; Rebekah Lyons, executive director, Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts Inc.; Gladys Lugardo-Hemple, council president, city of Bridgeton; Frank W. Minor, mayor, Logan Township; Celeste M. Riley, assemblywoman, legislative District 3; Raymond Yannuzzi, president, Camden County College; Ceil Smith, publisher, South Jersey Times; Mark Olshan, associate executive vice president, B’nai B’rith International; Shannon Cuttle, managing director, Youth Policy and Anti-Bullying Initiatives, Garden State Equality; and Nancy M. Hudanich, superintendent, Cape May County Technical School, and councilwoman, Borough of Avalon.
Participating students are enrolled in grades nine through 12 in Cape May, Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester, Camden, Atlantic, Burlington and Ocean County public schools; or enrolled in private, charter or independent schools within those counties.
This education and awareness initiative was created as part of B’nai B’rith programming that promotes tolerance and communicates a message of equality among all citizens. Funded by Pepco Holdings Inc. (PHI), parent company of Atlantic City Electric, the contest aims to enlighten, inspire and educate America's young people and their families in an effort to abolish prejudices and strengthen ties among today’s youth.
The winner will earn a $5,000 college scholarship and have his or her book professionally published and donated to local schools and libraries. The book will also be published in an e-book format and available on iTunes for free download. The second-place winner will receive a $2,000 scholarship, and the third-place winner will earn a $1,000 scholarship. In addition, the teacher who oversaw the winning entry and the school of the first-place winning student will each receive a $500 grant.
Over the last seven years, B’nai B’rith has published 20 original children’s books and awarded more than $165,000 in college scholarships and grants. Thousands of these published books have also been donated to public schools, libraries and Boys & Girls Clubs around the country.
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