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D.C. students share stories of turmoil, grace

Friday - 5/25/2012, 2:39pm  ET

Itiesha Dean, an eighth grader, won fourth place for essay about her mother's drug addiction. (WTOP/Kristi King)
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A child's story of drug addiction

WTOP's Kristi King


WASHINGTON - The winners of an essay contest for D.C. elementary and middle school students were announced recently and some of the standouts shared portions of their stories.

The students were asked to write about their biggest personal challenges, what makes their situation difficult and how they are coping.

For Tyranae Trowell, a sixth grader, homelessness is the greatest challenge.

"At school, people just come up to me and say 'Do you live in a shelter?'"

"I have to live with all of the rumors," she says.

Trowell says one thing she needs is prayer.

"Dear God, I hope I get a house soon because I am really getting picked on."

Another student winner wrote about being bullied. Nyat Ghidei, a ninth grader, won fifth place in the contest.

"Hey, I was bullied, but whatever they say, they can't hurt me."

Itiesha Dean is an eighth grader who says her mother's drug addiction has been her greatest challenge. She's learned from her experience, and says the biggest lesson was about personal accountability.

"She figured out how to stop herself," Dean says about her mom. "There's nothing I could do about it but to try to stay strong for her."

The contest is in its 24th year and is sponsored by Global Harmony Through Personal Excellence, a non-profit organization that works to support "the expression and humanity of children."

Every spring, the organization sponsors the "Celebration of Youth" essay contest, which is open to D.C. public school students grades 4 through 9. The contest is judged by prominent media figures and writers. Winners receive money and congratulatory letters.

To learn more about the contest and for a full list of this years winners, click here.

WTOP's Kristi King contributed to this story. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)