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‘The time is always right to do what is right’:12-year-old student wins T&D essay contest

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Hayward Micah Jean

"I will encourage my peers by lifting their self-esteem."

-- Hayward Micah Jean

“When my dad told me I won, my mouth opened,” said Hayward Micah Jean, a studious William J. Clark Middle School sixth grader.

The 12-year-old won The Times and Democrat’s Black History Essay Contest and received a $50 Visa gift card.

He is the oldest child of Hayward and Starlette Jean’s three children.

Contestants were tasked with listening to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and writing their own speech about how they are inspired to change the world.

The middle schooler wrote his inspiring speech based on a quote from King, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

He said of the many quotes and speeches he’s read and heard by the late civil rights leader, that is the one that inspires him the most.

He detailed his own dream of changing the world by forming a motivational group to help kids.

He named it Youth on POINT, according to his essay.

POINT, as he explained, is an acronym for “Protecting our innocence now for tomorrow.”

He said that King’s quote helps him “understand that no matter the time, the age, gender, or height, it is always time to do what is right.”

“I will inspire people with my motivational group that will empower people just like Dr. King empowered me, and maybe you,” he wrote.

He said winning the essay contest encouraged him to write more essays and speeches.

He told how his dad is helping him record monthly inspirational messages for his peers centered on basketball.

When he grows up, he plans to be an NBA analyst, an author and motivational speaker, he said.

In the meantime, he’s enjoying other hobbies, such as being a big brother. He enjoys playing outside with his brother and sister.

He enjoys motivational speeches and listening to Christian rap.

In addition, he likes to watch documentaries, especially those about Black history and Civil Rights leaders, like King.

His parents are thrilled with him winning The T&D’s essay contest.

“Watching my son grow is one of the greatest joys of my life!” said the elder Jean, who works as the Orangeburg County School District’s director of student services.

“Ever since he was younger, he’s always had interesting thoughts about the world around him and he’s always been passionate about helping people. When I shared with him about the essay contest results, he was motivated to write, because he had the opportunity to share thoughts he’s been wanting as many as possible to hear,” his proud dad said.

“Of course, he was happy to earn an extra $50, because his mom and I are always talking to him about the power of earning money. Seeing his reaction when we told him he was the winner was priceless!” he added.

“With so many negative stories about our youth that range from my son’s age on up, we felt it was very important for him to engage in activities where he can share the positivity of the youth with a large audience, because he is one of so many young people in our county that are doing phenomenal things! We are grateful for the Times and Democrat for highlighting such positivity with this essay contest and award!” he said.

The essay contest winner’s mother, Starlette Jean, said, “We are intentional about modeling words and behaviors we expect from all our children. As the older brother, Hayward helps us by being the perfect example for his little brother and sister.”

“We teach him the importance of using his talents, gifts and abilities to help people. He likes basketball and often shares thoughts of playing in the NBA. Over time, he has expanded his thinking to not limiting himself to being a player if there could also be an option of being an NBA analyst or maybe a team owner,” she added.

Contact the writer:mbrown@timesanddemocrat.comor 803-533-5545. Follow on Twitter: @MRBrownTandD.



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