BAKER — Baker School can expect a visit from best-selling author Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson, the Brooklyn Dodger whose hiring ended modern racial segregation in Major League Baseball.
The class recently participated in a "Breaking Barriers" essay contest, sponsored by Scholastic Corporation and the MLB. Fourth- through eighth-graders throughout the U.S. and Canada wrote essays on overcoming personal barriers with determination, courage and commitment, among other values.
Sharon Robinson, an educational consultant with Major League Baseball, will visit Baker to meet essay contest winner Olivia Hurley, 12, and her classmates in Kim Fountain's sixth-grade English class. Hurley was one of four first-place winners. The contest also had four second-place winners and a grand prize winner.
Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in 1947, becoming the first black professional baseball player, inspired the contest.
In addition to Sharon Robinson’s visit, Fountain's class will receive 30 autographed copies of her book "Promises to Keep," along with contest T-shirts. Hurley and Fountain will receive a laptop computer.
Hurley was surprised when she got the news.
"When Mrs. Fountain told me, my jaw dropped to the floor," shesaid. "I was not expecting that.
“I don't think mine was any better than anyone else's; that was why it was such a big surprise.”
In her essay, Hurley wrote about how she took control of her self-image.
"When I was younger, I wasn't comfortable with how I looked," Hurley said. "I don't think it’s a problem to be overweight, but if you are not comfortable with who you are, then only you can change that."
Hurley became more active, participating with her aunt and uncle, Angila and Bob Walker, in 5K runs. Through it all, the student maintains a 4.0 grade point average while playing in the school's middle-school volleyball, varsity track and cheerleading teams.
"They were so proud of her; there wasn't a jealousy feeling towards her," Fountain said. "That is how Baker is, and that is what makes Baker special."
Sharon Robinson did not immediately reply to an email seeking further comment on the contest.
Fountain and Hurley have submitted paperwork to contest officials and await word on when the author will visit the school.
In the meantime, the student expressed gratitude for all the people who contributed to the achievement.
"I want to give credit to all of the teachers I have ever had and to my pastors and coaches who have taught me to be the best person I can be," Hurley said.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.