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Cathedral students win One Book, One Community essay contest

Cathedral AP English students, from left, Trey Hand, Logan Young and Arden McMillin won the essay contest that was part of the One Book, Once Community Project sponsored by the Natchez-Adams County School District. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

Cathedral AP English students, from left, Trey Hand, Logan Young and Arden McMillin won the essay contest that was part of the One Book, Once Community Project sponsored by the Natchez-Adams County School District. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

By Catherine Boone

NATCHEZ — A community-wide reading challenge earlier this year helped three Cathedral High School students see life’s challenges in a whole new light.

Trey Hand, Arden McMillin and Logan Young won first through third places, respectively, in an essay contest, which was a part of the One Book, One Community project led by the Natchez-Adams School District.

The project encouraged students at all Natchez high schools to read NFL star Michael Oher’s autobiography “I Beat the Odds: from Homelessness to the Blind Side and Beyond.”

The book describes Oher’s journey from poverty and homelessness to meeting the Tuohy family — who took him in — and becoming an NFL star and the main character of the hit film “The Blind Side.”

Participating schools asked their students to write a two- to four-page essay about the qualities required to “beat the odds.”

Although schools were not required to submit essays to the contest, all students in Cathedral’s AP junior and senior English classes participated. Students were also asked to personalize their essays by relating the topic to their own lives.

The three winning essay authors admit they had difficulty relating the obstacles they face in their lives to Oher’s struggles.

“We wanted our students to read (the book) because it’s about a rough, rough life many of us don’t know about,” Cathedral AP English teacher Jean Biglane said.

“We come from relatively privileged backgrounds… so it’s hard to relate to Oher’s struggles,” Hand said.

Young said he overcame this difficulty by comparing Oher’s journey to the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

Young focused on the struggles each man faced and concluded that it was the perseverance and strength exhibited by both Oher and King that allowed them to “beat the odds.”

The three students were publicly acknowledged for their essays Saturday, Nov. 8, and were awarded cash prizes for winning the contest.

Biglane, Hand, McMillan and Young all said they enjoyed the program and agree that reading the book was inspiring and beneficial to participating students.

“The whole program was very worthwhile,” Biglane said. “It was tremendously worth the effort and time. It shows you what you can do with what comes your way.”

Trey Hand is the son of Shelton and April Hand. Arden McMillin is the daughter of Ronnie and Susan McMillin. Logan Young is the son of Chretia Johnson and Shane Young.

 

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