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Ronan High School students win top prizes in MLK essay, poetry contest

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RONAN – Three Ronan High School juniors received top prizes in a Martin Luther King Jr. essay and poetry contest, sponsored by Empower Montana, a Missoula non-profit.

The students, Grace Sutherland, Devin Panzetanga and AudriAnna O’Connor, were honored as part of the MLK celebration on Jan. 20 in Missoula. The students, who are creative writing students at Ronan High School, were asked to respond to two famous quotes by MLK. They received cash prizes and were invited to read their award-winning work at the celebration. Sutherland and O’Connor attended the ceremony, but Panzetanga was unable to attend.

First-place winner Panzetanga wrote a poem responding to King’s quote: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Panzetanga wrote these lines in his poem: “The hate you give to others/Is the hate that is given back to you. The love you give to others/Is the love that is given back to you.”

Sutherland, who placed second, dedicated her piece to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and wrote her essay as a letter of support to MMIW. She wrote: “I’m truly sorry for the awful things that happened to you. You were taken too early, and your purpose in life was not yet fulfilled.”

O’Connor, who placed third, wrote: “If only humanity didn’t decide to push and shove.”

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