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Memorial High Student Takes Third Place In State Bar's Black History Month Essay Contest

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Memorial High School student Lesley Pairol was awarded third place on Feb. 20 for her essay on banning the use of the “n” word in the 2007 Black History Month Contest for New Jersey High School Students sponsored by the Minorities in the Profession Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association. Contest officials received over 200 essays in this contest that involved New Jersey high school students and gave them a forum on a current, controversial topic. The awards were presented at a reception at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick.

“This is the most entries that we have received for our annual Black History Month essay contest,” said Minorities in the Profession Section Chair Tracy M. Thompson. “The entries were so good, that we wanted to give a fourth and fifth place, and so awarded those students with an Honorable Mention.”

In her essay, as a hypothetical candidate for Student Government Association president at Richard Pryor High School in Freedomville, New Jersey, high school senior Pairol told her fellow students that she supports the ban on the “n” word, because “even though it might seem a violation of freedom of speech, this policy respects those students who feel offended by this word, while keeping our school safe from encouraging racism.”

In the hypothetical situation described in contest rules, Richard Pryor High School recently implemented a new policy banning the use of the “n” word. Some student organizations support the policy while others oppose it. In their essay, students were to place themselves in the hypothetical, and write an essay as a candidate for the Student Government Association (SGA) that made the ban a key platform for SGA president.

In her argument in support of the ban, Pairol wrote, “use of the word goes against everything people like Martin Luther King fought for. It stands against the equality for which so many people fought during the Civil Rights Movement.”

In conclusion, she asked her fellow students to remember how painful words can be and not to use offensive terms. “Do it not only out of respect to African Americans, but out of respect for yourself,” she wrote.

For third place, Pairol received a $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a plaque.

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