On Saturday, October 27, the families and friends of the seven finalists in the 11th Annual Mary E. Finley Essay and Speech Contest filled the West End Branch for the Awards Program. Four winners were chosen by the panel of judges after all the finalists read their essays speeches on the topic “What the Library Means to Me.”
First place winner Briana Craig, an eleventh grade student at Robert A. Taft Information Technology High School, won a laptop computer. Joysoline Ivory Smith, a seventh grader at the St. Joseph School; Tre-Ney Reed, an eleventh grader at Cincinnati Virtual High School; and Aaliyah Walker, also a seventh grade student at St. Joseph School were the second, third, and fourth place winners who each received cash prizes for their work.
- Read the winning essay by Briana Craig
- Read the winning essay by Joysoline Ivory Smith
- Read the winning essay by Tre-Ney Reed
- Read the winning essay by Aaliyah Walker
This year’s program also featured a guest speaker, Maelesha Lee, a 2003 Finley Prize Winner and recent graduate from the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing & Health program. Maelesha delivered a rousing speeach on the importance of education and how the Library, and all of its resources, enriched her life and helped her on her path to personal and professional success.
About the Contest
The 11th Annual Mary E. Finley Memorial Essay and Speech Contest was open to students in grades 6 to 12 who attend school or live in the West End. This year’s sponsors included retired librarian George Ferguson, Mrs. Finley’s great-nephews Steve Rousseau (founder and CEO of Minority Recruit) and Tom Pitts, and the Friends of the Public Library.
The contest originated as a way for Mr. Ferguson to honor the memory of the late Mary E. Finley, a librarian who had a profound influence on him when he was a youngster growing up in the West End. Mrs. Finley, one of the first African American librarians hired by the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (she retired in 1972 after 44 years of service) was a staunch believer in the importance of libraries and reading.