It's not every day that you get called out of class in the middle of the day, to receive a gift certificate after writing an essay.
The essay contest was an initiative by Hoboken Housing Commissioner Jake Stuiver, and supported by Director of the Save the Youth Academy and Nick Calicchio, who works for Assemblyman Ruben Ramos. All essays had to be about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Ramy Assal, 12, won first prize, which entailed a $50 gift certificate to Game Stop.
Assal said his essay was divided into three parts: a biography of Dr. Martin Luther King's life, how he died and how he changed the world.
"His main goal was to insure that the blacks have the same rights and privileges as whites," the 8th grader wrote in his essay.
Second place went to Assal's younger brother sixth grader Osama Assal, 11. The brother assured that they had not worked together on the essays. Second place was awarded with a $35 gift certificate to Game Stop.
Third place went to sixth grader Barbara Calero, 12, who won a $30 gift card to Barnes and Noble. The gift cards were paid for by Stuiver.
"I feel very happy," she said.
The school's principal Linda Erbe also came out onto the hallway and posed for a picture together with the winners. After the photo-op, the normal school day resumed and the students went back to class.
Stuiver said he didn't know how many students entered the essay contest. The school picked the winners.