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On this special day, the Missoulian features the winners of the 23rd annual Martin Luther King Jr. writing and art contest. Prizes were awarded to the first- through third-place finishers, respectively, in each division for both artwork and essays.

Students were asked to respond to the following quote by Dr. King: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Winners will be acknowledged Monday evening when hundreds of Missoulians come together in a nationwide day of community action to celebrate and examine the legacy of Dr. King.

A youth-led rally will begin at 5 p.m. at Caras Park, featuring performances and youth discussing current social issues currently impacting young people in our community. At 5:40 p.m., a march will proceed from Caras across the Higgins Street Bridge to the community celebration, which begins at 6 p.m. at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 202 Brooks St.

The celebration will feature Mayor Wilmot Collins of Helena as the keynote speaker. There also will be musical performances by Andre Floyd, Lewis and Clark Peace Choir and SpecialFX, as well as a celebration of the winners of the youth art and essay contest.

The evening will close at 8 p.m. with a community dinner and social in the lower level of the church. A suggested donation for the catered meal is $5 per person, $10 per family.

For more information contact Jamar Galbreath at 406-541-6891 or

Kindergarten-second grade

First place, essay

Sylvie Goheen Jannotta, second grade, Rattlesnake Elementary

If I was President of the United States, I would follow Martin Luther King’s advice ... “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

I would want to treat everyone kindly, no matter what the color of their skin is. I also think it is important to treat ladies nicely. I think everybody deserves food and shelter. I would ask everyone in the county to donate money if they wanted to. I would try to be a good leader, and be kind, caring, and respectful. I would donate food and money to the poor. I think everyone should be able to go to the hospital no matter how poor they are.

Nobody wants to be poor because it makes things hard. You get cold. It feels like being in a freezer. You get hungry. It makes your tummy rumble — it echoes through your body. It makes things very terrible for your children. The poor need to be helped, and the people of this country are the ones who need to help.

Hate makes us mean. It makes us feel like we have a buzz of lightening in our body and makes us do and say things that we don’t really want to happen.

Being good spreads love and being bad spreads hate.

Love makes us feel peaceful and kind.

Second place, essay

D’yala Lee Martinez, second grade, Daly Elementary

D’yala’s Quotes of Love

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

We are all American’s, no matter what the color of your skin

No one should ever judge another by the color of their skin

The color of your skin doesn’t matter

We are all equal and should be treated that way

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Never judge others, you can only judge yourself

Never do harm to others

Never hate anything, just love everything

Never tell people what they can or can’t do with their life

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

It could all be different if that time was now

People have changed since then

I would do everything I could to help the black people

I would be willing to give my life for them

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

If you hate there will be bad consequences

If you love for good there will not be consequences

If you show peace good things will come in return

If you show hate consequences will come in return

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Third place, essay

Russell Stonesifer, second grade, Missoula International School

Love fills me with joy.

Conflict and hate fills me with anger and sadness.

I love peace so much because I think that everyone deserves peace arid


Even if their skin is a different color.

And shape.

We miss you MLK.

First place, art

D'yala Lee Martinez, second grade, Daly Elementary

Second place, art

Sylvie Goheen Jannotta, second grade, Rattlesnake Elementary

Third place, art

Eldana Bsrat, kindergarten, Sussex School


Third-fifth grade

First place, essay

Noah Carson-McIntosh, fifth grade, Target Range

Dear Dr. King,

It really inspired me when you said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Let me explain.

The first sentence is important because you said “I have decided” which means that love was a choice, not something that came naturally. It means love can be difficult to stick with because choosing love means it might not be returned, which could lead to feeling sad or worried. Hatred comes up in some people’s minds much quicker, which can lead to anger. Anger is easier because when you’re angry you have someone to blame.

I think I know what you mean when you called hate a burden to bear. You meant that hate is a heavy load to carry around. Hate is regretful and sometimes you can’t take it back. Picture a dump truck. When it gets full it has to tip to get all the dirt out. When a person is carrying so much hate it’s heavy and eventually it will spill out in mean actions or words, and sometimes physical aggression.

Love must have been hard for you when you were trying to make equal rights happen because it wasn’t returned to you by most of the white citizens. You should know that some groups of people in our country are still fighting to choose love. Some people are still marching, standing up for equal rights, and sticking up for each other instead of spilling hate.

Second place, essay

Kaidyn McIntosh, fifth grade, Target Range

I’ve decided to stick with love. Love is a blue balloon floating just out of reach.

If you jump to retrieve it you could fall and scrape a knee. The blue balloon soars above you encouraging you to look up. You notice the red and orange leaves clinging to nearby trees and the brilliant clear sky above you

Hate is too great a burden to bear. Hate is a pile of heavy rocks we’ve learned they’re good for throwing. We load our arms with more rocks to launch but heavy rocks will weigh you down. Heavy rocks will drown you.

Hate may make you feel powerful for a moment,

But love will give you the sky.

Third place, essay (tie)

Lucy K. Reed, fifth grade, homeschool

Even when...

Martin Luther King Jr. was a very non-violent man during a violent time. Whenever racist people verbally and physically attacked him, he responded-with love. Even after receiving hostile death threats, he remained peaceful. Even when hateful racists threw a bomb at his house with his wife and ten-week old baby inside, he answered by marching peacefully. Even when the Governor of Arkansas blockaded nine black girls from going to public school that the US. Supreme Court had said they could go to, Martin Luther King Jr. countered this by inspiring people to be brave. Even when the Ku Klux-Klan chucked a bomb at a church in Birmingham, Alabama and killed 4 little black girls attending Sunday school, he responded by going to church and praying. Even when police sprayed powerful fire hoses and released vicious dogs on the peaceful marches protesting Jim Crow laws, he reacted by leading more marches and singing “We Shall Overcome’ Even after the Bloody Sunday massacre in Selma, when the police clubbed, tear gassed and killed his friends, he told his followers not to fight back with violence. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed our country would eventually become better place, with people of all races and colors living together with high respect for each other.

Third place, essay (tie)

Asher Olivia Howie, fifth grade, Target Range

Dear Diary,

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

I think that this is such a strong and encouraging quote. I think that this quote can encourage people that have a lot of rage, sadness, or just hate in general.

Currently there is a lot of racial tension, and hopefully in the future it is better. This quote really touches me because I would really rather have love in my heart than a heart full of rage and hate. It takes so much more energy to hate than to love. Just like it takes more muscles in your face to frown than to smile. The children in Birmingham had no hate when they were being thrown into jail, instead they sang and danced and had so much love in their hearts. It is important to me to have love in my heart in a situation like the Children’s March and the March on Washington. Since I have been in those situations, I know that it does not help to be violent or murder. I know that this world has so much racial prejudice, but it is no good to fight with violence. It will just cause more fighting and violence. So that is what I meant when I spoke those words!


Martin Luther King Jr.

First place, art

Edith Michelle Fielding, fifth grade, Clark Fork School

Second place, art

Sadie Richardson, fourth grade, Missoula International School

Third place, art

Wren Chapman, fifth grade, Missoula International School


Sixth-eighth grades

First place, essay

Juliet Curtis, eighth grade, Missoula International School

To Love Uncontrollably

Mama, please don’t worry about me.

On the day that I spread my wings and soar away,

please don’t worry.

I will find every rose on this earth and bring them all back to you, even if they once carried bloodthirsty thorns.

I will pluck the freckles from my sun-kissed cheeks and send them to you, no matter the times salty tears have tried to fade them away.

I will sprinkle stars on the bottoms of my feet so that you can see constellations in my footprints, no matter the burning scars they leave behind.

You see Mama, I wake up every morning with the option of being anyone I want. How beautiful it is that one of those options is to be loving.

When you fall in love with something, you’ll find that you fit perfectly into all the fractures and rusty spots. That you can so easily love everything.

So Mama, when I travel across this earth in search of things to love, I will paint elaborate maps for you in inches

in meters

in miles

When I wring out every last drop of love in this world I will give it to you in pages

in novels

in volumes

I promise to keep every ounce of hatred at bay from you and your beautiful mind at any cost

all costs

every cost

You see Mania, I am the time between seconds. The void between your fingers.

The ache in your bones.

I will always be there to love everything.

So someday when I go to the moon, I will blow you kisses, and tnen you tru.Iy will know that all we can really control in this silly and wildly

imperfect life is the love that we chose to give without any guarantee of ever getting it back in return.

So Mama please don’t worry. Don’t worry about me. I will always choose to love uncontrollably.

Second place, essay

Elena Vatoussis, eighth grade, Missoula International School

I’ll Stand

Dear Martin Luther King Jr.

I’ll stand with you, hard and strong, until my feet leave prints on the grounds so that others can stand in my footsteps and feel what I felt, learn what I learned, and try as I tried to leave a mark on the world.

I’ll fight with you, I can hear the sound waves travel through the air, the music of the people’s cries, shouts and screams can still be heard from a millennia, the protesters wounds still stained on the ground remind us of the sacrifices from those who fell.

I’ll dream with you, your wisdom rooted like the tree of knowledge as it guides us in our minds, your heart rising like the sun seeping through the clouds entwined with the melting colors of dawn. Your sorrow sinking into darkness slowly setting into night, celestial stars forever shining vibrantly in the sky, as the whispers of breezes shiver the air.

You said once that you have a dream, If you were here today, if you have seen the wars, the slaughter and hate, the protesters, segregation, and violence . Would you still have that same dream?

I believe we can change humanity, changing our future and destiny. That all are equal, all are protected; that all have homes, jobs, love.

You had a dream, I hope I one day see it come true. You believed in a better, safer, happy tomorrow. I’ll stand with you.

Third place, essay

Win Duerk, eighth grade, Sussex School

Martin Luther King

The country is divided.

People aren’t even allowed to use the same bathroom or drinking fountain People are hated for nothing but the color of their skin.

Violence is normal.

People hate others they haven’t even seen or heard of before. A boy sits in the darkness watching, scared for what might come.

The boy is scared for not just himself but for his family and friends. He watches as people he knows and loves are killed.

He sits there as he is spit on and called terrible things.

Finally, it is too much. The boy on the floor rises, and a warrior stands in his place. He chooses to use weapons different than the ones he has seen. He chooses peace and nonviolence above all else.

In the face of dogs and firehoses and lynchings and riots, he stands unwilling to sit back down, unwilling to give up all they have died for, unwilling to yield to hate.

He shows the difference between right and wrong. He shows the burden of hate.

He exposes it for what it really is: pure, hideous evil.

The power of peace and unity eventually shapes the minds of hateful beings. His light drives out dark, his love drives out hate.

First place, art

Elena Vatoussis, eighth grade, Missoula International School

Second place, art

Ian Rasmussen, seventh grade, Missoula International School

Third place, art

Allie Beighle, eighth grade, Missoula International School


High school

First place, essay

Mattie Steinberg, 11th grade, Hellgate High School

I wipe the raindrops from my phone screen before placing it in the pocket of my black jacket. I look around at the people walking along the sidewalks. Everyone has somewhere to go, moving quickly to avoid the raindrops spilling from the grey sky. I feel sorrow for the woman in a large patched coat who sits huddled on the corner. I watch as people divert their eyes, uncomfortable as they walk past. Just as I begin to wonder how long the woman will sit there, as if invisible to everyone else, a young boy walks up and places fifty cents in the cup that sits in front of her. She smiles and thanks him, the skin around her eyes wrinkling as she does so. My mood shifts when I see the woman smile. As I begin the walk back to my car, I’m thinking of the sound of the ocean, the first warm day after a long, grey winter, and the way it feels to make my little brothers laugh. I live in a world that moves so quickly, some days it feels like I’ll never catch my breath. But today, I tell myself to slow down, and think of the things that make me happiest. I hope for many more moments like these, and promise myself that I’ll do everything I can to surround myself with nothing but love, because that is what matters most.

Second place, essay

Issac Zavarelli, 10th grade, Hellgate High School

“Get used to it”

A glimmering firefly in close, heated hands, a catch worth saving

Dark purple sky and few far stars waving with the forcefield restraining them

A small hotel with a wide parking lot, the sign always swaying

Those terrifying nights being away from home, the Denny’s breakfast at ten

A big house near the rapid river always active with responsibility

Yellow tall wheat fields, crowded trees that slope downwards

Feelings of happiness, a home filled with warmth, the children’s agility

The last dark night of the fourth of July, big booms that frightened cowards

The depressing loss of many loved family members, time passing slowly

A realization that life is not forever, a small thought of reincarnation

Eagles swirling ahead a small river in an open valley, tracking

Restricted to one big area, the wish to travel to another nation

Raging, containing the feeling that has been bottled up inside

The sound of fighter jets breaking the sound barrier above

I am tired, tired of walking this treacherous path, I have to try

The desolate skies that once amazed me, the wounded dove

A feeling of constant repent, reject, and to become used to it

The war that goes on inside of my head, the dream of a world without hate

A ghost that walks a spectral path into the blue, a dark hole turned into a bright pit

I have to get used to it, become satisfied with the world we have to sate

Become used to this expectation, the orders that will make me normal

I do it for now, until my voice is heard and I do not sense hate

My doing is now, and what I do now creates the future, which shall be eternal

Third place, essay

Areej Mirani, ninth grade, Hellgate High School

Love vs. Hate

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” I agree. Love is a wondrous, joyous thing. Love leads us to happiness and success. Hate is filled with icy cold revenge. Hate will drag you down with its jealousy and depression. In Martin Luther King Jr.’s lifetime, we can imagine how hard it must have been to look at the bright side of life. The blacks of America were fighting against the whites, trying to gain some rights. But King achieved this goal with determination and perseverance.

In 1954, King was already a member of the NAACP and he started his first peaceful protest in early December 1955. This boycott of the buses lasted three-hundred and eighty-two days. King endured all kinds of hate during this. His house got bombed, he was condemned with personal abuse, and he would get arrested for no reason. But at the end, King forgave and won the first rank as a Negro leader.

To further spread his message of equal rights for everyone, King traveled six-million miles plus. He made over twenty-five hundred speeches between 1957 and 1968. King wrote five books and a ton of articles during these years. Finally, in his ominous protest in Birmingham, Alabama, King became a worldwide legend. It’s admirable that Martin Luther King Jr. chose love over hate, or he wouldn’t be the famous civil rights leader he is remembered as today.

First place, art

Ella Arlint, ninth grade, St. Ignatius

Second place, art

Addison Bird, ninth grade, St. Ignatius

Third place, art

Dharma Audette, 11th grade, St. Ignatius

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