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Attorney General Honors Canton Student Finalists in ‘Do the Write Thing’ Program on Impact of Violence


(CANTON, Ohio) – The scenario that middle-school student Alex Ketchum describes in his essay is chilling because it’s all too possible.

Imagine that you are that one kid at school who always gets picked on. The only thing on your mind is how you could get big and strong just to beat up those who have made fun of you. This thought seems unrealistic so you dismiss it while remembering that your dad has a gun at home full of ammunition.

Alex, who attends Early College Middle School, was one of 18 students from the Canton City School District honored today by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost as a finalist in the “Do the Write Thing” challenge, a national program that asks middle-schoolers to explain how youth violence affects them and to share ideas about how to stop it.

“I am so proud of the Canton students,” Yost said. “I know it’s not easy to write about violence, maybe to go back to some painful memories, but these middle-schoolers’ words and ideas shine a light on the darkness of violence and give all of us hope.”

Yost’s office launched Do the Write Thing in Ohio last year with Springfield City Schools and this year partnered with three more districts: Canton, Lima and Zanesville. The program allows students to put in their own words – maybe for the first time – a personal and sometimes-painful experience.

The Canton program received more than 500 submissions from seventh- and eighth-graders at Early College Middle School, Crenshaw Middle School and STEAMM Academy at Hartford. The award ceremony was held today at All-City Grille.

Community members and business leaders volunteered to read the essays and choose the winning submissions, with the top 18 stories published as a booklet to be shared across the state to bring greater attention to the problem of violence.

Alex Ketchum and Da’Mariyah Skillern will join six students from the other participating districts as Ohio’s ambassadors to the Do the Write Thing conference in Washington, D.C., in July.

Canton Schools Superintendent Jeff Talbert commended the students for their work to combat violence.

"I am extremely proud of the efforts of all of the Canton City students who shared a part of themselves through the writing process," Talbert said. "This was a meaningful way to take their personal experiences and create awareness. Our students are already making an impact by expressing themselves and sharing their passion and courage through their essays. They will be the ones to create solutions for the next generation."

Do the Write Thing, organized by the National Campaign to Stop Youth Violence, has reached millions of students with its program.

Attorney General Yost’s remarks from today’s event can be found here.

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