The students in teacher Julie Dellecave’s fourth-grade class at Winton Hills Academy hold their book about Cincinnati Civil Rights icon Marian Spencer, center, after writing and illustrating the award-winning book about her and her amazing accomplishments. The students, from left, are Janyia New, Aliyana O’Neal, Nakiyah Ray and Serenity Mills. Dellacave is in back. Photo provided

By Dan Yount

The students in teacher Julie Dellecave’s fourth-grade class at Winton Hills Academy in the Cincinnati Public School system had a recent opportunity to meet Cincinnati Civil Rights icon Marian Spencer after writing and illustrating a book about her and her amazing accomplishments.

The students just won the National Youth Foundation contest with this book, and it was the second year in a row the students have won that award. They said meeting Mrs. Spencer was just the icing on the cake of this great experience for these girls.

Winton Hills Academy has embraced Mrs. Spencer ever since she was invited by Joe Wilmers, a retired social worker at the school, to speak at the school 12 years ago. Since then, Wilmers has invited five girls to Mrs. Spencer’s house every spring to share ice cream and listen to her talk about the Civil Rights work she and her late husband Donald Spencer were involved in here in Cincinnati and her words of wisdom. A month ago, Wilmers took the four girls who authored the book to Twin Towers Senior Living Community, where Mrs. Spencer resides. They read their book to her and gave her a copy. Just last week, the students learned the book was chosen by the National Youth Foundation as the best book about women written by young authors.

Winton Hills Academy students’ book, “Misunderstood Micah,” which is a book about bullying, was selected as the winner of the 2018 National Student Book Scholar Competition. The National Youth Foundation, with Carlos Dunlap of the Bengals, as well as other star athletes, hosted a student writing competition on the theme of anti-bullying. The judges were players from the NBA and NFL.

Wilmers co-founded a foundation, Friends of Winton Hills Academy that is paying for the authors to fly to Philadelphia to receive the award. The foundation also is helping four of the school’s graduates who attend college.

“All of this is great news for this CPS school that has one of the highest poverty levels in the district,’’ Wilmers said.

This article originally appeared in the Cincinnati Herald. 

Young authors win national book award

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