The Maison des jeunes de Bayonne pays tribute to the winners of the Black History Competition
The Maison des Jeunes de Bayonne has announced the winners of the 2022 Black History Competition. The competition, sponsored by Mayor James Davis, held an awards ceremony for the winners of the art and writing competition on February 25 at Bayonne high school.
The ceremony was chaired by the president of the board of directors of the Maison des Jeunes de Bayonne, Angélique Jackson-Belle. She has been president for seven years after succeeding Margaret Hamiel, who served as president for the previous thirty years. Other members of the Bayonne Youth Center Board of Directors who were present at the event included Corresponding Secretary Dawn Herring, Co-Chair Collette Jackson-Belle and Board Member Marcia Jordan.
The annual competition has both an artistic part and a written part. For the artistic part, the students had to to choose an influential African American who spoke to them and had to write a found poem to accompany this work. For the writing part, students were asked to reflect on Juneteenth and could submit either spoken word, a documentary, an advertisement or a song. First place for both portions included a cash prize of $125, second place included $75, and third place included $50.
Winners include sixth, seventh and eighth graders
For the artistic part, first place went to Joshitha Sripada, an eighth grade student from Nicholas Oresko Community School, for her artistic submission of George Floyd; second place went to Desiree Okonkwo, an eighth grade student of Nicholas Oresko, for her art of Maya Angelou; third place went to Erick Pineda, a seventh-grader from Midtown Community School, for his Barack Obama art; Julia Swierzbinski, an eighth grade student of Nicholas Oresko, also placed third for her art of Amanda Gorman.
Honorable mentions for the artistic part: Aldy Youanna, eighth grade student of Lincoln Community School; Alexander Megally, a sixth-grade student at Horace Mann Community School; AvaJolie Angarita, a sixth-grade student of Henry Harris; Aydin Rivera, a sixth-grade student from Robinson Community School; Danielle Losonczy, a sixth-grade student of Nicholas Oresko; Gabriella Rolon, an eighth-grade student of Nicholas Oresko; Gia Cipriani, a sixth-grader from Midtown; Isabel Jaros, a seventh-grader of Nicholas Oresko; Leandro Valentiner, a seventh-grader of Nicholas Oresko; Mateo Marius Acosta, an eighth-grade student of Nicholas Oresko; Nola Holliday, a sixth-grade student of Nicholas Oresko; Parnika Agarwall, a seventh-grader of Nicholas Oresko; Raunak Verma, an eighth grade student of Nicholas Oresko; Sophia Habib, an eighth grade student of Nicholas Oresko; and Srujana Panda, a seventh-grader of Nicholas Oresko.
For the writing part, the first place went to Desiree Okonkwo for her speech; second place went to Darilis Villamar, an eighth grade student from Henry Harris Community School, for his digital and written submission; second place also went to Midtown sixth graders Caleb Brazile and Jamel Cruz for their rap song submission; third place went to Eva Chambers, a sixth-grade student of Nicholas Oresko, for her speech; and Julia Swierzbinski, an eighth grade student of Nicholas Oresko, for her poetry also placed third.
Honorable mentions for the writing portion included: AvaJolie Angarita, a sixth-grade student of Henry Harris; Gia Cipriani, a sixth-grader from Midtown; Madina Toppa, an eighth-grade student of Henry Harris; Michael Gerges, a seventh-grader of Nicholas Oresko; Michelle Lin, an eighth grade student of Woodrow Wilson; Mohamed Hassan, an eighth-grade Henry Harris student; Moussa Abdelnour, a seventh-grader of Woodrow Wilson; Raouda Elsaid, an eighth-grade student of Henry Harris; and Tucker Fishbaugh, a seventh-grader of Nicholas Oresko.
Davis sponsors the annual competition
Jackson-Belle credited Mayor James Davis with helping bring the contest to fruition.
“Five years ago I met Mayor Jimmy Davis,” Jackson-Belle said. “He was kind enough to come on board and sponsor it financially.”
Davis delivered remarks at the start of the ceremony, thanking the Maison des Jeunes de Bayonne and its members for their work.
“Thank you not just for today, not just for Black History Month, but for all that you have done all these years for the young people of our city,” Davis said. “It’s phenomenal. It’s about community and it’s like saying that if we can’t take care of our children, no one else will.
Davis also praised the students, praising their essay and artistic submissions.
“Take the art and the essays and read them,” Davis said. “We are supposed to teach our children to be inclusive, what community is and that everyone is the same even though we all look different… Read the essays and look at the art, because even as As adults, we can learn from our children… And our children are very talented, keep working with them and take them forward, because that’s what this is all about.
State officials congratulate participants
Assemblyman William Sampson, who represents the 31st Legislative District which encompasses Bayonne and parts of Jersey City, alongside Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, applauded contestants and urged them to keep up the good work. McKnight echoed the praise for the submitted works.
“Listening to these poems just brought tears to my eyes and my heart smiled,” McKnight said. “Juneteenth is a celebration of our freedom and all that you have done to sit here on this stage today is a testament to our culture. Black culture is every day, as good as any other human being in this world.
McKnight, a co-sponsor of the bill that made Juneteenth a holiday in New Jersey, encouraged kids to celebrate each other for the work they’ve done.
“You are not only our leaders of tomorrow, you are our leaders of today,” McKnight said. “Your words, the contest, the research you did are part of you. And you can now share this with your family, your friends. You create a legacy. June 19 is a holiday, but I want you to celebrate what you did to get here tonight. And rem ember, you are part of the story.
State Senator Sandra Cunningham, who was also a lead sponsor of the bill to make Juneteenth a holiday, applauded the “beautiful and talented” students for their “great work.”
“Anyone hearing you today would be proud to call you part of a great band,” Cunningham said. “I am proud because you are a member of an excellent elementary school. And I’m proud because I’m African American and also belong to a great group.
Between the officials’ speeches, the students presented their original poems, videos and even a rap performance. Overall, dignitaries in attendance included Mayor Davis, Sampson, McKnight, Cunningham and the entire City Council, including City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski, First Ward Councilman Neil Carroll, Councilman Third Ward Gary La Pelusa and Councilman At-Large. Juan Perez.
The event served as the perfect close to Black History Month on February 28 and a reminder to remember black history throughout the year.
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