Thirty District youngsters received prizes at the District Building recently for essays they had written on the topic "A Special City Needs Special People."
The contest was sponsored by the National Capital Law League, a group of lawyers' wives. The organization conducts tours of the D.C. courts and other activities for children.
Keith Tillman, 11, a 6th grader at Hendley Elementary School, was one of the 7 first place winners who received $100 savings bonds.
Keith said he wrote about the "troubles" in the city, because, "I thought we should change some of the problems in Washington, D.C."
In his essay, Keith wrote that, "Washington D.C., is a special city that needs special people," and that "it can be made much more special if people cooperate with each other."
"Of course, I'm proud," said Keith's mother, Gloria Tillman, as she watched her son clutching the envelope containing his savings bond and having his picture taken with the other first place winners. "I'm very proud."
"I think it was a very good experience for her," Said Priscilla Hicks, whose daughter Keva, 10, a 5th grader at Bunker Hill Elementary School, also won a first prize.
Jean Gordon, a charter member of the Law League and chairwoman of the contest, said that the League had received more than 400 entries from District elementary school students.
"About 40 schools participated," Gordon said, adding that some students sent in essays without the backing of their schools, and that the contest deadline had been extended a month to allow students time to submit entries.
Other first place winners, all 6th graders, were Kenneth Stevenson, 12, Mary Church Terrell School; Acquanetta Broadnax, 11, Woodridge Elementary; Arden Fraiser Miller, 12, Robert Brent Elementary; Sharon Smith, 13, Thompson Elementary; and Andre Parks, 13, Bancroft School.
"I happen to think this was special because of the positive attitude of the contest," Gordon said. "Teachers have said that the contest made a marked difference in their children. One or two of the winners reading at a first or second grade level made great strides during the contest, and if they couldn't write their essays, they dictated them."
Gordon said she hoped the contest would spark changes among the students, and that she was encouraged that schools were having assemblies to honor their winners.
Funds for the prizes and the prizes themselves were provided by area banks, businesses and the D.C. bar, the Bar Association of D.C. and the Association of Plaintiff Trial Attorneys.
"We got way over $1,100 in prizes, which was really fantastic," Gordon said. "No matter who I talked to, they all came through with money."
Gordon said that the Law League hopes to make the contest an annual event, and that several of the sponsors have expressed an interest in contributing to the contest next year.
Among the persons presenting the awards were Mrs. Thurgood Marshall and Mrs. Potter Stewart, wives of the Supreme Court justices, Judge William Thompson, Stephen Trimble, president of the Bar Association of D.C., and Patrick Maxwell, executive director of the D.C. Bar Association.