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Revisiting our history

AWARDED: Students hold their certificates at our Made by History event

PUPILS ACROSS the UK descended on the House of Commons on November 27 for the annual Made by History event, as The Voice announced the winners of the celebrated competition.

More than 100 students, teachers and parents gathered inside Parliament’s largest hall to be presented with certificates for participation and for the overall winners to be awarded for their phenomenal essay writing skills.

This year, over 300 entries were admitted into the Made by History competition – mak- ing this one of the best years yet. Pupils had to discuss who their favourite black inventor was in a 500-word essay, which tested their researching skills, and ability to write in a succinct, informative and expressive manner.

The Made by History competition launched in October 2015 in a bid to encourage UK schools to further discuss black history. Since its inception, it has gone on to receive hundreds of entrants and become a celebrated event at the House of Commons.

With a large number of entrants, judges including Robert Reed and Maxine Webster took on the task of reading, marking and picking the winners of the competition, while learning in the process. “I read so many amazing essays and I learned so much in the process,” said Webster. “These students have really encouraged me to go and do some research, and I want to thank them for that.”

Reed added: “I’ve learned quite a lot from reading these essays. It’s made me realise that we might be living in a social media age through texting, emailing and so on, but that writing is such an important skill.

I really encourage you all not to lose it. To kick off proceedings, JN Bank’s Leon Hamilton gave a rousing speech,discussing his involvement in the competition. “We’re quite pleased to be a part of this competition again and I have to say that you are all winners. I had to look at a few essays and was very impressed.”

MAINSTREAM

Reverend Rose Hudson- Wilkins also spoke to the pupils and discussed the importance of advocating for black books in mainstream bookshops. “When I go to a bookshop and I don’t see books by black authors, I’ll go and ask them why, and I think we should all do the same,” she said.

“You don’t have to look like me to do so and advocate for this, and it is very important to do so and participate in competitions like Made by History.” Throughout the event, students received certificates for participation, with the overall winner of each age group getting the chance to read their essay to their peers.

Overall winner of the nine- year-old category, Adrian Pricoopie, wrote passionately about Otis Boykin who invent- ed an important control unit for the modern pacemaker. Nine-year-old Olivier Goldsmith read his engaging essay and was met by a round of applause for his impressive words.

Celia and Ian Markey announced the winner in the 10-year-old category, which went to St Matthews student Suri Dagi who was unable to attend. In her absence, Clemmie Vanhasselt of MacMillan Caribbean read Dagi’s essay about Garrett Morgan.

Additional winners included 11-year-old Tayah Perry Williams, and 12-year-old Yuri De Oliveira Nguvulo, who was presented with his certificate by judges Danielle and Heather Chevannies. “I picked Dr Mark Dean to write about because he was really into technology and computers which I am into and I enjoyed researching him,” said De Oliveira Nguvulo.

The last winner of the 13-15 category was Edward Ntalindwa Badege, who wrote an eloquent and informative essay on the life of Lewis Latimer. On his essay, Badege said: “I knew about black inventors but not about their lives, and this competition provided a lot of context for me.

"If I have another opportunity like this, I would do the competition again because not only does it allow me to have more pride in my people, but it gives me a learning experience and helps me apply what I have learned to my own personal studies.”

The two highly anticipated categories of the day were most inspirational essay and the overall winner. The quality of entrants was so good that it resulted in a first ever tie. Mr Hamilton presented the certificates for the first two winners – Lina Gallego Bedoyo, a student from St Anthony’s school in east Dulwich, and Laverne Johnson.

"Laverne Johnson’s mother spoke of her pride for her daughter. “I think she’s very gifted. She loves reading and writing and I’m proud of her.”

Beyond being awarded with the most inspirational essays, both Bedoyo and Johnson won a guided trip in Parliament, courtesy of Dawn Butler MP. Lastly, the overall winners of the competition were an- nounced, and presented with two Amazon Fire tablets.

Raya Hobbs of St Anthony’s School and Te’vye Ansah both took home the coveted title – with Te’vye’s mother, Claire, exhibiting extreme happiness as she cheered on her son. “It’s a privilege to be here. We’re very blessed and honoured,” she said. “We entered the competition last year and it was great to get the opportunity to have this experience.”

“I’m really happy and really excited that I got a prize,” said Hobbs. “I did research on a few black inventors; George Washington-Carver was my favourite. I’m happy that I got this far.

Paulette Simpson, director of The Voice, concluded the event, commenting: “It was a pleasure for us to be surrounded by such a diverse range of enthusiastic and intelligent young people, who thought deeply about what they wanted to say. We look forward to having an even bigger event next year.”

Next week, we’ll feature some of the winning essays from The Voice Made By History competition.

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