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Marvin Ridge MS students craft essays to reflect on core beliefs

Dr. Jay Jones, principal at Marvin Ridge Middle School, gives introductory remarks to a group of seventh-grade parents eager to hear their children read “This I Believe” essays. Students’ essays are now displayed on the walls around the school.

More than 60 years ago, broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow hosted a radio program called “This I Believe.”

Famous Americans, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Jackie Robinson, and everyday citizens read personal essays they had written about their core beliefs.

Educators at Marvin Ridge Middle School, inspired by Murrow’s broadcast, recently challenged their students to create their own “This I Believe” essays.

Seventh grade language arts students spent several weeks creating, writing and editing their essays.

Students were encouraged to think deeply and thoughtfully about the ideas that matter most to them.

Parents and educators were then invited to the students read their essays.

The students chose a variety of themes for their essays, such as “Never Give Up,” “Practice Makes Perfect,” “Family Comes First,” “Treating Others the Way I Would Want to be Treated” and “Cherish Every Moment,” an essay written by Will Mazur, whose mother died from pancreatic cancer when he was 9-years-old.

“If you keep thinking positive thoughts and keep your head up, you can get through anything, I promise,” Will’s essay said.

In Christina Liapis’ essay, “Helping Means the World,” she wrote about joining an organization in elementary school, Kids Helping Kids, where she was paired with autistic kids at her school.

“This was something I had never experienced before, and I looked forward to my time with them,” wrote Christina, who found she had a unique ability to connect with the kids. “I didn’t actually know how much I believed in myself until I had the opportunity to prove it. And because I had to believe in myself and my ability to help others, it opened my mind to believe in the abilities of others.”

Luke Smith, who was reluctant at first when his family hosted a German exchange student, learned to not judge people who dress, speak or look differently from himself.

“Everyone is the same, despite our differences,” Luke wrote. By the end of the two weeks, “the only thing that separated us was our language.”
This is the seventh year Marvin Ridge middle school students have written “This I Believe” essays.

Principal Dr. Jay Jones credits the language arts teachers for bringing this activity to their students.

“I have been blown away, and even moved to tears, by this remarkable work by our young people,” Jones said. “It’s quite an extraordinary opportunity for our students to sharpen their writing skills through such a meaningful and relevant activity.”

“This I Believe” continues to be a regular series on National Public Radio’s program, “All Things Considered” and “Weekend Edition Sunday,” which air on WFAE-FM (90.7) Charlotte. For more information and to read or submit an essay, go to www.thisibelieve.org. According to the website, This I Believe Inc. “was founded in 2004 as an independent, nonprofit organization that engages youth(s) and adults from all walks of life in writing, sharing, and discussing brief essays about the core values that guide their daily lives.

Written by: Dawn Liles is a freelance writer for the Charlotte Observer
Posted: May 15, 2014 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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