BEACHWOOD -- Akron Public Schools student Kate Klika brought home second-place honors for her age group and 21 other students around NE Ohio in grades 6-12 received awards in the fifth annual Stop the Hate: Youth Speak Out! essay contest.
Kate is in seventh grade at Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts.
Annie Robinson, an 11th-grade student at Aurora High School, was awarded a four-year, $50,000 scholarship at the ceremony held for the second year at Severance Hall.
Kelly Knaser, of Wickliffe High School, and Robert Edwards, of Max Hayes High School, received first and second runner-up four-year scholarships, $25,000 and $15,000 respectively.
Twenty-one other students in grades 6-12 received awards.
WKYC Channel 3 Weekend News Anchor/Education Reporter Kim Wheeler served as Master of Ceremonies for the second year.
The event was presented by Dealer Tire, KeyBank and Cleveland Clinic and featured an invocation by The Reverend Dr. Otis Moss Jr. and remarks from Museum co-founder Milton Maltz and Executive Director Lynda A. Bender.
About 1,600 students from seven eligible counties -- Summit, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina and Portage -- shared their stories by submitting essays this year.
Since the contest's creation five years ago by the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, more than 8,000 students have participated in the contest, expressing their thoughts on combating hatred and discrimination in their schools and communities and committing to respond to future acts of intolerance.
A total of $500,000 has been awarded in scholarships and prizes to Northeast Ohio students since 2009.
Matt Soble, the winner of the first Stop the Hate and who graduates college this year, returned to serve as one of the judges.
Essays are scored on content, writing, originality and creativity, and utilization of the theme of personal responsibility. At the dramatic Awards Ceremony, each finalist read his or her essay aloud for final scoring by a blue-ribbon panel of judges.
Their essays addressed a variety of issues, from living with alopecia and mental illness to LGBT issues and economic diversity, and offered heartfelt and innovative solutions.