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Longview High School seniors take top honors in statewide scholarship program

By Meredith Shamburger
March 16, 2017 at 11:44 p.m.

Longview seniors Alex Johnson, 18, and Madeline Duvall, 17, discuss winning scholarships in the library at Longview High School on March 10. Both wrote essays about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for the "Because History Matters" essay contest hosted by Brookshire's.

When asked to write about why history matters, Longview High School senior Alexandria "Alex" Johnson turned to Martin Luther King Jr.

King's dream of a better life for black Americans — and Americans of all races — was a powerful statement, she said. His work as a civil rights leader continues to impact people today, she said.

"He opened up doors for African-Americans and other people to be in positions that we are now," Johnson said.

Johnson and fellow Longview High School senior Madeline Duvall have been named winners of the "Because History Matters" scholarship, which is sponsored by Brookshire's and Super 1 Foods. Johnson took home first place statewide, winning a $3,000 scholarship, for her essay on King. Duvall earned the second place spot statewide and will receive a $2,000 scholarship for her essay, which also discussed King.

The scholarship program awards more than $25,000 to students in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas, with scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $3,000. Winners were chosen based on their submitted essays, academic achievement, financial need and leadership. The scholarship program is open to all graduating high school seniors who have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher.

Duvall said she chose to write about King because she respects his use of peace and love as an alternative way to protest. She said the impact of integrated classes — one of the things King and other civil rights leaders fought for — gave her the chance to see different perspectives every day.

"I'm an IB (International Baccalaureate) student, so we do a lot of Socratic seminar work, and a lot of different perspectives from different cultures and different lifestyles come to the table basically everyday, which is something I'll always be grateful for," she said.

Duvall said history is one of her favorite classes, and she enjoys studying King. Duvall also won this year's Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest, allowing her to read her piece at the MLK celebration in Longview.

Johnson will attend Baylor University next fall and said the scholarship will help her pay tuition costs. She plans to major in health science studies, on the pre-physical therapy track, and hopes to become a physical therapist.

Outside of class, Johnson plays softball and volleyball. She is a member of the National Honor Society and takes AP classes.

Johnson said she was happy to win the scholarship.

"I honestly didn't know if I was going to get this scholarship, but it's just an honor to get it," she said.

Duvall still is waiting to hear back from several colleges before she decides where she'll end up next fall, but she is considering a history or museum science major. In addition to being an IB student, she also serves as the theater department historian, president of the Longview World of Wonders youth advisory council, a Longview Museum of Fine Arts student board member, Longview Community Ministries student board member and is in a leadership role at her church.

Duvall said she was particularly glad the essay she won with was about King and the impact history has.

"I was super excited because I wrote about something that I care about and that affects me every day and affects everyone around me," she said.

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