Return to Headlines

Campbell ES 5th Grader Wins City Of Fairburn Essay Contest


Josiah UtleyWhen the City of Fairburn put out a call for students in grades K-5 to submit artwork, and students grades 6-12 to submit essays on the effects of the pandemic, Campbell Elementary 5th grader Josiah Utley decided to share his thoughts in an essay. The self-described motivational speaker says he “aspires to change the world through positive messages.” Utley was the overall winner of the essay contest, which was held in honor of Georgia Cities Week.

Dr. Lawanna Owens-Twaites, Campbell Elementary literary coach, said, “Our students have been engaged in the writing process for four years. We are so proud of Josiah, whose learning was on full display.”

In his winning essay, Josiah describes his world after the pandemic hit. “The pandemic has made me feel unexplainable stress,” he said. “At times I feel as if this is the last chapter of the world’s story. If feels like life is coming to an end.”

Practices put in place to help bring the pandemic to an end, like social distancing, have created problems for Josiah. “We separate ourselves from each other and it made me, along with many of my peers, feel lonely,” he said. “In fact, at times I felt like I was on a one man’s island.”

In motivating others to look on the bright side, Josiah suggests there is a time in the future when life may go back to normal. “Hopefully, the recipe to turn back the hands of time is found within a syringe (the vaccine) filled with HOPE and FRESH NEW FUTURE,” Josiah said in his essay. “In the words of the WIZ characters, ‘Can’t you feel a brand new day?’”

Josiah was presented with a trophy by Fulton County Schools (FCS) Board Member Franchesca Warren and a plaque from Fairburn Mayor Elizabeth Carr-Hurst.  FCS Zone 3 Superintendent Ron Maxwell, Campbell Elementary Principal Arthur Davis and Global Impact Academy Principal Anthony Newbold, were among the attendees. “I enjoyed seeing our students present and most of all sharing their true experiences as it relates to adjustments for COVID,” said Davis.

In the coming months, Josiah sees himself becoming an author of a book series for young boys that empowers them to become their best selves. Maybe he will include in that book his words from the essay. “I am not a fortune teller but I can predict this, maybe just maybe life will be switching to the sunny bright world where we can do anything we would like without fear, anxiety and the overwhelming feeling of loneliness.”