Two CMS middle-schoolers are headed to D.C. this summer after winning a district-wide essay contest.

The students wrote about how youth violence and drug abuse has affected their lives, the causes of youth violence and what they can do help stop it.

The 2009 “Do the Write Thing Essay” contest drew nearly 1,500 entries from 15 CMS middle schools.

The contest is part of the National Campaign to Stop Violence, a coalition of businesses, community leaders and organizations that help to educate children about violence.

The CMS winners are:

Kristina Owens, an eighth-grader at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle:

The title of Owens’ essay is “No more of this nonsense.” She wrote about her fears of being outside in her community knowing that violence may occur. She thinks that youth violence stems from television shows, video games and sometimes, from parents. Owens would like to start a non-violence association in schools and in her neighborhood.

“Youth violence and drugs are affecting more and more people every day,” she said. “I just want the world to be in peace and harmony.”

Erick Sanchez, also an eighth-grader, attends Bishop Spaugh Middle.

Sanchez’s essay tells a story about his personal experience with violence. He was involved in a situation at school and several of his peers acted violently towards him. He escaped the incident unharmed and now uses that story to talk to his peers about making good choices. He also explained why teenagers are involved in violent behavior and how education can be used to prevent students from acting out. Sanchez feels that lack of parent involvement and the failing economy are reasons some teens become violent. He hopes to start an alcohol- and drug-free club and provide a mentor for every child.

“I would be a mentor and tell the little ones that violence is no game and that they need an education to succeed,” he said.

Sanchez and Owens have been named Ambassadors for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Mimi Hutton, literacy coach at Bishop Spaugh and Dorothy Brown, language arts teacher at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle, will attend a special ceremony with the students in Washington, D.C. this summer at no charge. The group will also visit the offices of and meet with North Carolina’s legislators.

The students received a certificate, $50 gift card for school supplies and an MP3 player. The local contest was sponsored by the Mecklenburg County Area Mental Health program.

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