Angie Manzanares
Micah Kelsey's passion for Martin Luther King inspired her award-winning essay.

WEST KEARNS, Utah — When Kearns Junior High English teacher Susie Meyers recently asked her eighth-grade students if ignorance is indeed bliss, one student took the question to heart.

For Micah Kelsey, ignorance is not bliss and she began to ask herself how she could be a part of the solution and where the beginning of the solution might begin.

Remembering one of her favorite quotes by Dr. Marin Luther King, Kelsey decided to enter the Utah State Office of Education’s Martin Luther King essay contest, where she captured the top spot in the eighth-grade division.

“Martin Luther King inspires me. He tried to stop discrimination and make things equal,” she said. “People should get to know others and have an open mind and an open heart.”

Kelsey noted that often times, people are simply unaware of someone else’s circumstances and tend to judge only what they see on the outside.

“Martin Luther King had a dream. Along with that dream, he wanted something to change, but how can someone change something if they are ignorant and don’t really see what’s there,” Kelsey wrote in her essay. “Bliss and ignorance are complete opposites of each other but they go hand in hand. To make the world a better place, we need to change it. If we don’t change, we are all ignorant and it will not happen. This is why ignorance is not bliss.”

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The USOE’s Education Equity department sponsors the annual January competition that is open to all 7th through 12th grade Utah students. This year’s theme was “How are you demonstrating Dr. Martin Luther King’s vision of unity in your life?” Students could enter one of two categories, essay or video. Winners will attend a luncheon to celebrate their success. The state’s top winners will receive $100. Those who earned the top spot in their grade division will receive $50.

While Kelsey was surprised about winning the competition, her teacher wasn’t surprised at all. But Meyer ran down the school hallways yelling to everyone when the announcement was made.

“She’s brilliant, isn’t she?” Meyer said. “I told my class that someone in here was going to win. The energy at that moment (that Kelsey was announced as the winner) was one of the reasons I became a teacher.”

Angie Manzanares is a former teacher and journalist. She currently works for the Granite School District as a public relations specialist. Her hobbies include photography, graphic design, dancing and screaming at Jazz games.