New Hope School first-grade student Krushi Bhatnagar reads her winning essay "Have a Kind Heart" aloud to the audience
The highly anticipated award ceremony for the essay contest, earlier suggested by Rev. In Jin Moon, took place on June 11, 2009, at the New Hope School in Clifton, New Jersey, with Reverend Moon herself presenting the awards. Since Reverend Moon’s surprise proposal of this contest at her first meeting with the students on November 18th, 2008, each of the 62 students received the opportunity to write an essay for the competition on their thoughts of how they personally want to create peace in the world.
As Rev. In Jin Moon expressed to the students, this style of essay contest was an idea of hers to encourage young people to be inspired and feel they are able to share their own voices with their communities and schools. These contests have been happening as a result of her efforts around the world, and New Hope School was next.
With a total of 62 students from first through eighth grade attending New Hope School and an award given to the first-prize winner from each grade, a total of $1,000 was given to New Hope School and divided among the winners that day.
New Hope School first-grade student, Viktoria Popovska, runs to the stage after her name is announced as runner-up for her essay "Helping Families".
As each student sat in the crowd waiting in eagerness to see if his or her essay had been chosen, the contest winners and a few runners-up from each grade came on stage when their name was announced in order to read their distinguished essay to the attendees, who were all clapping in support of their classmates. The contest winners Krushi Bhatnagar, Marcelo Austin, Nobuyo Watanabe, Kana Tateishi, William Takahashi, Chason Beebe, Carolina Shirato, and Amy Clark all spoke with confidence and honor for being chosen as excellent writers and, even better yet, expressed their own messages about world peace.
Rev. In Jin Moon was impressed by each, greatly respecting and relating with each person’s ideas and thoughts. When speaking to the students after the reading of the essays, she particularly commented on eighth-grade essay winner Amy, “who hit everything home by saying ‘I’m going to start with myself.’” Reverend Moon shared with the attendees, “I think the starting point for world peace is you and me. It is what we decide we are going to be today that determines what we are going to do in the future. So we have to dream big. All of you are hand-crafted by an incredible Parent called God; He made each and every one of you so special and so beautiful.”
New Hope School eighth-grade essay winner Amy Clark receives her award from Rev. In Jin Moon.
Reverend Moon also encouraged the students to start building peace through their own actions by caring for the people around them starting from a very young age so that these habits can become second nature. “We need to start living as if we belonged to one family, and then when we grow up, we can carry that spirit into any profession we go into.” Although she was speaking to the children, her message could be felt deeply by all age groups in attendance, including parents, family members, and teachers.
With special gifts also given by Rev. In Jin Moon to New Hope School’s eighth-grade graduates, the students sincerely and graciously felt her encouragement to be doing their best in fulfilling their capabilities. “I just can’t wait to hear all the wonderful things about students who have graduated from this school,” said Reverend Moon. “I look forward to hearing about all the accomplishments that you will make in high school, college, and your careers”.
Written by Celine Tardy