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AG Yost Commends Zanesville Students for Thoughtful Reflections on Youth Violence


(ZANESVILLE, Ohio) — Levi Knott, a student at Zanesville Middle School, doesn’t mince words when addressing the problem of peer bullying:

Most kids are scared to go to school because they are afraid that they will get bullied, perhaps about the way they dress or the way they look. Principals should start talking to their students individually about bullying because then they could figure out the causes of bullying, how bullying has changed many students’ lives, and what we can do to help stop it.

Levi’s thoughts, part of an essay for the anti-violence program Do the Write Thing, earned him and nine other students from Zanesville Middle School recognition yesterday evening from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost as program finalists. Yost’s office partners with the national initiative, which encourages seventh- and eighth-graders to delve into the impact of violence on their lives and to propose solutions for their communities.

“Once again, Zanesville students were tasked with examining how violence affects their daily lives and offering solutions for reducing it in their community,” Yost said in the introduction to a booklet containing the essays of the Zanesville finalists. “They tackled the difficult subject with candor, thoughtfulness, and insights beyond their years.”

Launched in Ohio in 2021 with Springfield City Schools, Do the Write Thing has since expanded to four other districts statewide: Canton, Lima, Youngstown and Zanesville. Zanesville has provided students with this platform for three years now, allowing them to articulate personal experiences and potentially find catharsis.

This year, 435 seventh- and eighth-graders in the Zanesville City School District submitted essays. The award ceremony took place yesterday at Zanesville Middle School. Although Attorney General Yost was unable to attend, he shared a video message with the students.

“I understand that writing about violence isn’t easy,” he expressed in the video message. “But your essays were profound, enlightening and thought-provoking – exactly what we need to hear from you, our young citizens, to gain a better understanding of the world you envision and the reality you face.”

Zanesville-area business leaders and community members judged the essays, selecting 10 to be published in the booklet, which will be distributed statewide. Hailey Anderson and Levi – along with six students from the three other Ohio districts participating in the program this year – were chosen as Zanesville’s ambassadors; they will represent the district at the Do the Write Thing national conference in July in Washington, D.C.

Zanesville Superintendent Doug Baker emphasized that students’ insights will help fuel the momentum necessary for building a stronger community.

“Reading these stories written through the eyes of 14-year-olds is both heart-wrenching and motivating,” he remarked. “It's an opportunity for adults in the community and beyond, who wield the power to effect positive and lasting change, to once again perceive the community through the lens of a child.”

Since its inception in 1994 by the National Campaign to Stop Youth Violence, the Do the Write Thing program has influenced millions of students nationwide. Yost’s office works with the campaign to bring the program to Ohio school districts.

Hannah Hundley: 614-906-9113


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