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Daniel Goderwis, a fifth grader at Mason-Corinth Elementary, enjoyed the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration held in Frankfort, Kentucky, on January 16, 2014, from a rather unique perspective. As FIRST-PLACE WINNER of the 2014 MLK STATE ART CONTEST (Elementary category) Daniel, together with his parents, Danny and Sharon Goderwis, and his teacher, Mrs. Tena Switzer, were special guests at the annual event celebrating the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

At the event, Daniel met and shook hands with Governor Steven L. Brashear, Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson, and Kentucky's Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday, plus had the opportunity to hear special performances, and remarks from Keynote Speakers, Chester and Ann Grundy. “I heard speeches about how Dr. Martin Luther King inspired people,” said Daniel. “He used his sermons and prayer, because he was a Christian preacher.”

Daniel’s interest in Dr. King, however, had begun quite a bit earlier than this event. “We studied him in Social Studies,” continued Daniel. “I like Dr. King because he believed everyone should have every right, not just white people.”

Daniel’s winning art work featured a portrait of Dr. King, with an American flag in the background and the word “Freedom” in the foreground. A “bridge” to the side of Dr. King depicted “integration” and “bridging the gaps of inequality.”

This is not the first time Daniel’s artwork has earned state recognition. In 2013, his artwork placed second in his age group (of 235 entries) in the state Duck Stamp art contest.  Also, as the first place winner of a contest sponsored by the Kentucky Music Educators Association (KMEA), his piece was published on the cover of their state magazine. Locally, he has also won the annual conservation art contest. In interviewing Daniel, however, about this particular accomplishment, you could tell he connected with Dr. King. “I like that he communicated his ideas in love and peace instead of fighting and violence,” says Daniel. “Dr. King wanted everyone treated fairly, and I think that is a good idea.”

That Daniel so beautifully depicted King’s message, both verbally and visually, was no surprise to his teachers. “It is so appropriate that Daniel should win this award,” states Mrs. Switzer. “He’s just that kid. Not only is he a super conscientious student himself, but he really cares how others feel and how they are treated. This will have a lasting impact on Daniel, and Daniel will have a lasting impact on others.”

Daniel takes art lessons from Mary Lucas in Williamstown. The MLK State Art Contest was sponsored by the Martin Luther King, Jr. State Commission, the Governor’s Office of Minority Empowerment, the Kentucky Arts Council, and the Kentucky Historical Society.

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