Several Oklahoma students win OKC National Memorial & Museum essay contest on power of listening

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum held a national essay contest on the significance and power of listening to one another, and several Oklahoma students won top prizes.

Over 300 students in grades five through 12 from 13 states submitted essays for the contest, according to a National Memorial & Museum news release.

The contest was held as part of the Memorial Museum’s Better Conversations initiative, which was started to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing, which occurred on April 19, 1995.

“The essay contest prompts challenged students to explain how engaging in civil conversations made a difference in their own lives and how respectful conversations can lead to a kinder, gentler world,” the news release states.

  • Photo goes with story
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The essay contest winners and their schools are as follows:

5th/6th Grade:

  • 1st Place: Kobe Close – Cleveland Elementary – Norman, OK
  • 2nd Place: Canaan McKinney – Cleveland Intermediate – Cleveland, OK
  • 3rd Place:  Molly Garrison – Cleveland Elementary – Norman, OK

7th/8th Grade:

  • 1st Place: Jordan LoVette – Oakdale Public School – Edmond, OK
  • 2nd Place: Jake Pham – Oakdale Public School – Edmond, OK
  • 3rd Place:  Elijah Brown – Oakdale Public School – Edmond, OK

9th/10th Grade:

  • 1st Place:  Pari Gulati – Casady School – Oklahoma City, OK
  • 2nd Place:  Faith Adedokun – Valley Forge Baptist Academy – Collegeville, PA
  • 3rd Place:  Trinity Neves – Jenks High School, Jenks, OK

11th/12th Grade:

  • 1st Place: Rachel Hintze – Homeschool – Chandler, AZ
  • 2nd Place: Abigail Miller – Homeschool – Pensacola, FL
  • 3rd Place: Layne Havlik – Coweta High School – Coweta, OK

Kobe Close, a first place winner from Cleveland Elementary School, wrote “Good listeners are sincere and open-minded and they don’t judge people for what they say.”

Pari Gulati, winner of the 9/10th Grade division wrote: “Rather than arguing on our thoughts, if we hear each other out, we can understand the issues both parties are dealing with and come to a better solution.”

John Kennedy, Vice Chair of the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation and Founder of StellaNova Crafted Coffee, sponsored the esssay contest. “One of the most important skills that people can have today is listening, communicating with each other, respecting each other, really understanding each other. And today was an exercise in listening and valueing other points of view because that’s really what the future is all about. How do we come together through respect and appreciating others, especially those who have a different opinion than us.”

Ann-Clore Duncan, Secretary of the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation and Education Chair, encouraged students, “Your words are powerful. They are the beginning of a lifetime of writing. Keep writing. Keep sharing your opinions. They are very thoughtful.”

Kari Watkins, Executive Director, Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, expressed “Sometimes it’s important to look outside ourselves and understand the perspective of others and to respect it, even when we don’t agree with it.”


Go to for the Memorial Museum’s Better Conversations’ topics and schedules.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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