The Achievement Network launched its first student writing contest celebrating Black History Month on February 1, 2023. Students between grades 3-5 in our partner schools responded to standards-aligned prompts accompanying passages featuring prominent Black historical figures in ANet’s Quiz Tool. Teachers were able to grade entries and then submit these students’ entries into our contest submission form.
We received numerous submissions demonstrating rigor and comprehension of grade-level literacy standards. Read the prompts and winning submissions below. Congratulations to our winners and the educators who inspired their work!
BHM 5th Grade
Writing Prompt: You have read "Dreams," a poem by Langston Hughes expressing the importance of holding on to one's dreams. Write your own poetic response that expresses the importance of dreams. Be sure to consider the theme and poetic style of Hughes' poem.
Teacher: Caitlin Sullivan
School: Sacred Heart STEM School
1 Dreams are sweet and sour
When reached, they leave you with a savory taste,
Sweet like the juice of the perfect mango.
Dreams reached, like sugar, become addicting.
5 Dreams are sweet and sour
If left unreached, all that remains is bitterness
Sour like an extremely tart grapefruit.
Dreams unreached are the lemons to your lemonade
BHM 4th Grade
Writing Prompt: You have read "Mae C. Jemison". Imagine you are Mae C. Jemison, and write a journal entry that describes Mae C. Jemison's journey towards becoming the first black woman to travel to space. Be sure to include details about what she liked to do, her training program at Nasa, and her feelings about going to space.
Passage: Mae C. Jemison
By Wade Hudson
Teacher: Brandon Ferguson
School: International School of Louisiana Westbank
I am so proud to be the first African American woman to go to space. I've worked so hard to get here. I have done so much for this to happen even since I was a little girl and now it is finally here. I'm so happy my parents are very proud of me because I worked hard to get what I want and they always told me to do that. And I am breaking a record and I am excited that our country has gotten so far.
When I was young I always wanted to become an astronaut. As a child I loved to read especially, I would spend hours at a time in the library reading science and science fiction books about space. And I remember always telling my parents I wanted to be an astronaut and they always told me to work hard, so I did. At the age of 16 I graduated High School, and went to Stanford University. After college I went to medical school and became a doctor. After that I joined the Peace Corps and traveled a lot, I still never gave up my love for space and my dream of becoming a astronaut.
After that I applied for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration aka (NASA). And in August 1987 I got a phone call from NASA, I was one chosen out of 2000 I was so excited I might actually become an astronaut. And the training began. It was hard because I had to be fit mentally and physically. We studied mathematics, earth resources, meteorology, guidance and navigation, astronomy, physics, and computers. I learned so much. And finally I was selected to fly to space on the Endeavour as the science mission and conducted experiments in space.
I am so happy that I am the first African American woman to space. And that I represent women all over the world. And I believe that hard work can get you anywhere.
Yours always, Mae C. Jemison
BHM 3rd Grade
Writing Prompt: You have read "George Washington Carver: The Peanut Scientist". Imagine you are George Washington Carver, and write a journal entry that retells his life from his point of view. Be sure to include details about Carver's life, his interest in science, and his work with peanuts.
Passage: George Washington Carver: The Peanut Scientist
Born 1864 (?) - January 5, 1943
By Fredrick and Patricia McKissack
Teacher: Vinh Vu
3rd Grade ELA Teacher
School: Greenbrier Elementary School
There are many stories shared about me. Most of them are about peanuts. many people don't know that created many of things used today from it.Today is a good day to tell you more about me before my peanut inventions.
i was born a very long time ago. Can you believe that i was a slave? When i was 12, l left where l lived because l wanted to go to school. As a slave, l would not be able to go. So l walked to a new town. I was so tired that I fell asleep in someone's barn and the family found me. I was worried what would happen but they let me stay to go to school.
Next, I started at Lincoln School. I had to learn everything because I wanted to be a scientist . I had to move in with another family though It was okay because I was finally old enough to live on my own Then I made it to Kansas. There was someone else named George Carver I decided to add Washington to my name. It sounded cool to me. I started College and studied my favorite Plants and animals. When I graduated, I was really a scientist.
Since I graduated my friend Booker T. Washington asked me to come teach at his school .I wanted to stay at my old school but I went to his. I had to move to Alabama . it was very far. When I made it, we had work to do. the soil was very bad and the crops did not grow well . We did a class project on growing sweet potatoes and some other thing so the land could rest.
Finally, we grew cotton and the crops and crops was good. Everyone wanted to know more about crops and peanuts. Farmers and businessmen traveled to find out. Once I showed them what could be made from peanuts they were happy. That's why i'm called the farmers best friend.