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PCHS student takes second place in state contest

DUBLIN — For the average Virginian, having the telephone number for the governor’s office show up on your caller ID is a rare occasion.
But when you’re Sam Hester, the second-place winner in a statewide literary contest, you soon become one of those rare recipients.
Hester, who is a resident of Dublin and a senior at Pulaski County High School, received word from the governor’s office this past July that his poem, “One Brave Young Woman,” had placed second in a statewide literary contest, which coincided with the dedication of Virginia’s Capitol Square Civil Rights Memorial in Richmond.
As the second-place winner, Hester received a framed certificate and $750.
Last spring, as a student in Roxanne Thompson’s AP (Advanced Placement) U.S. History class at PCHS, Hester was required to write either an essay or poem in response to a literary prompt about the legacy of Barbara Rose Johns, a figure within the civil rights movement.
Hester said he chose to write a poem because he felt he would do a better job at that than writing a lengthy essay.
As for what inspired him to write, Hester said, “I was inspired by the bravery and determination of Barbara Johns and her group of followers.”
Hester also said a great deal of inspiration came from “a dear friend and member of my church, Mrs. Mattie Payne Holmes, of Dublin. She has shared stories with my family of local struggles in the civil rights movement. From her, I learned that the civil rights movement affected everyone in Virginia. I am thankful we have moved forward from those days.”
In addition, Hester said his Sunday School teachers, Mrs. Edith Hampton and Mrs. Thelma Hampton, “have been role models in my life, showing me that all people should be free to follow their dreams.”
Despite the magnitude of Johns’ actions, her story is not very well-known.
“It could be said that Barbara Rose Johns is Virginia’s Rosa Parks,” according to historical information from the Virginia Civil Rights memorial website. “Unfortunately, very few people have ever heard the story of how this brave young 16-year-old caused a quiet revolution in the small town of Farmville, Va., the ripples of which would be felt throughout the state and the nation for years to come.”
On April 23, 1951, Johns led a walk-out and demonstration with her fellow students at Robert R. Moton High School in Farmville to protest the intolerable conditions at the school, according to the website.
Moton High had twice the number of students it was designed for and offered no cafeteria or gymnasium facilities. In addition, the teachers there were poorly compensated compared to those in the all white high school, the website reads.
On that day, more than 450 students followed Johns’ lead and walked out of Moton High. A month later, on May 23, 1951, two civil rights attorneys from Virginia, Oliver White Hill and Spottswood Robinson III, filed suit in the Federal District Court in Richmond for the immediate integration of Prince Edward County schools.
That case, Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, was eventually joined with four other cases to become Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. The resulting Supreme Court decision in 1954 struck down the “separate but equal” racial doctrine that governed school policy.
According to the Civil Rights Memorial website, “the Capitol Square Civil Rights Memorial will, once and for all, recognize and celebrate Barbara Johns, her fellow students from Robert R. Moton High School, their parents, and community leaders and civil rights attorneys. These Virginians risked everything in the struggle to gain full and equal rights for all.”
Hester is the son of Steve and Sarah Hester of Dublin.
In addition to being an award-winning poet, he is involved in the PCHS marching band, drama, tennis and several clubs at the high school.
He is also a member of the National Honor Society and a student at the Southwest Virginia Governor’s School. His additional hobbies and interests include playing drum set, bass guitar, and piano.
For more information about the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial, visit www.vacivilrightsmemorial.org.

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PCHS student takes second place in state contest

DUBLIN — For the average Virginian, having the telephone number for the governor’s office show up on your caller ID is a rare occasion.
But when you’re Sam Hester, the second-place winner in a statewide literary contest, you soon become one of those rare recipients.
Hester, who is a resident of Dublin and a senior at Pulaski County High School, received word from the governor’s office this past July that his poem, “One Brave Young Woman,” had placed second in a statewide literary contest, which coincided with the dedication of Virginia’s Capitol Square Civil Rights Memorial in Richmond.
As the second-place winner, Hester received a framed certificate and $750.
Last spring, as a student in Roxanne Thompson’s AP (Advanced Placement) U.S. History class at PCHS, Hester was required to write either an essay or poem in response to a literary prompt about the legacy of Barbara Rose Johns, a figure within the civil rights movement.
Hester said he chose to write a poem because he felt he would do a better job at that than writing a lengthy essay.
As for what inspired him to write, Hester said, “I was inspired by the bravery and determination of Barbara Johns and her group of followers.”
Hester also said a great deal of inspiration came from “a dear friend and member of my church, Mrs. Mattie Payne Holmes, of Dublin. She has shared stories with my family of local struggles in the civil rights movement. From her, I learned that the civil rights movement affected everyone in Virginia. I am thankful we have moved forward from those days.”
In addition, Hester said his Sunday School teachers, Mrs. Edith Hampton and Mrs. Thelma Hampton, “have been role models in my life, showing me that all people should be free to follow their dreams.”
Despite the magnitude of Johns’ actions, her story is not very well-known.
“It could be said that Barbara Rose Johns is Virginia’s Rosa Parks,” according to historical information from the Virginia Civil Rights memorial website. “Unfortunately, very few people have ever heard the story of how this brave young 16-year-old caused a quiet revolution in the small town of Farmville, Va., the ripples of which would be felt throughout the state and the nation for years to come.”
On April 23, 1951, Johns led a walk-out and demonstration with her fellow students at Robert R. Moton High School in Farmville to protest the intolerable conditions at the school, according to the website.
Moton High had twice the number of students it was designed for and offered no cafeteria or gymnasium facilities. In addition, the teachers there were poorly compensated compared to those in the all white high school, the website reads.
On that day, more than 450 students followed Johns’ lead and walked out of Moton High. A month later, on May 23, 1951, two civil rights attorneys from Virginia, Oliver White Hill and Spottswood Robinson III, filed suit in the Federal District Court in Richmond for the immediate integration of Prince Edward County schools.
That case, Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, was eventually joined with four other cases to become Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. The resulting Supreme Court decision in 1954 struck down the “separate but equal” racial doctrine that governed school policy.
According to the Civil Rights Memorial website, “the Capitol Square Civil Rights Memorial will, once and for all, recognize and celebrate Barbara Johns, her fellow students from Robert R. Moton High School, their parents, and community leaders and civil rights attorneys. These Virginians risked everything in the struggle to gain full and equal rights for all.”
Hester is the son of Steve and Sarah Hester of Dublin.
In addition to being an award-winning poet, he is involved in the PCHS marching band, drama, tennis and several clubs at the high school.
He is also a member of the National Honor Society and a student at the Southwest Virginia Governor’s School. His additional hobbies and interests include playing drum set, bass guitar, and piano.
For more information about the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial, visit www.vacivilrightsmemorial.org.

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