Winton Hills Students Win Writing Contest for Book about Local Civil Rights Activist


(From left to right) Winton Hills Academy fourth graders Serenity, Aliyana, Janyia and Nakiyah won a national writing contest for their book, Marian Spencer: A Light in the Darkness.

Four Winton Hills Academy students won a national book writing contest.

The fourth-graders penned Marian Spencer: A Light in the Darkness about the Cincinnati civil rights activist. The 20-page book won first place in the National Youth Foundation contest, which challenged students to write and illustrate a piece about an inspirational woman.

“It’s a tribute to a living legend,” said Julie Dellecave, the students’ teacher. “The girls worked tirelessly on this book for several months. We are proud of them and what they have accomplished.”

Students Janyia, Serenity, Nakiyah and Aliyana worked on the book, which highlights Spencer’s childhood growing up in West Virginia and inspiration from her grandfather to help others, as well as her many accomplishments throughout her career.

“I worked on the illustrations,” said Janyia. “It was fun!”

Spencer greets the students with hugs.

“I did a lot of research about Mrs. Spencer,” added Serenity.

Spencer, 98, was the first female president of the Cincinnati branch of the NAACP and the first African American female elected to Cincinnati City Council. The Marian Spencer Education Center in Walnut Hills is named after her.

“She really inspired us,” said Aliyana.

“And she’s really nice,” mentioned Nakiyah. “We like spending time with her.”

The girls first met with Spencer in December, when they shared their book with her. They recently visited her again to let her know that they had won the contest.

“I have never been written about by children before and I appreciate it,” Spencer shared with a smile. “I think that they have earned this award and I am happy that they are the ones getting it.”

Teacher Julie Dellecave and the students traveled to Philadelphia to accept an award for their book about Spencer.

The students and Dellecave attended an awards ceremony in Philadelphia on March 16, which marked the first time the girls have ever flown on a plane. Support from the Friends of Winton Hills Academy Foundation helped to make the trip possible.

“For our students to win something nationwide like this shows the other students at our school, along with kids everywhere, that you can accomplish anything with hard work and dedication,” said Dellecave.

This marks the second year in a row that Winton Hills Academy won the National Youth Foundation contest. Marian Spencer: A Light in the Darkness will be published and available in public libraries.

“To spend time with these girls is so special to me,” said Spencer. “I hope that they do well in everything.”

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