As we get ready to celebrate Martin Luther King Day on Monday, several students from HISD were busy reciting their speeches during the annual Gardere MLK Jr. Oratory Competition on Friday, Jan. 14.

The purpose of this program is to recognize and encourage the writing and oratory skills of the students. All of them made everyone stand-up and take notice.

At a church, which is called Antioch Missionary Baptist, that was founded by freed slaves in 1866, there were messages of freedom, perseverance and Dr. Martin Luther King.

"Gardere [Wynne Sewell LLP] has been putting on this event for 15 years," said company partner and event emcee, Stephen Moll. "And we just absolutely love it. I think it's significant because it really does grow these young people. These are fourth and fifth graders doing this. Not only does it develop their minds, but it really gives them an opportunity to think about a great role model in Dr. King."

An annual tradition. An intense competition. Dr. King's words inspired young minds with a grown up topic: "How will you carry forward the legacy of Dr. King in your personal and professional life?"

"In one of Dr. King's speeches he said, 'I have a dream.' And today, I stand before you and say 'I also have a dream that one day I will stand on the grounds of Harvard University and receive my law degree,' " said Joshua Jacobs, who represented Garden Villas Elementary School.

"He [Dr. King] spoke to crowds of people motivating them into action while encouraging them with to maintain the right mind set," said Keishara Young from Atherton Elementary School."

"I will commit to carry forth the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I will inspire others to follow my lead by becoming the change that is necessary," said Torian Allen from Anderson Elementary School.

"One person may not be able to change the whole world, but I can and I will change the world for somebody," said Maya Donker, a student from Whidby Elementary School.

"When the storms of life come our way we can change difficulties into opportunities," said Sarah from Burus Elementary School.

"Pne hot day in Birmingham, Ala., a man came up to Dr. King and says he was discriminated against," announced Cameo Brown, a student from Windsor Village Elementary School, to the hundreds on hand at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.

"My non-profit organization will reflect Dr. King's ideas. I will help provide money to the poor and homeless," Ahnia Leary-Haley, a student from MacGregor Elementary School, told the audience about her future goals.

"This visionary leader challenged an injustice system and rebelled against the status quo," said a very focused John Fields of Park Place Elementary School.

"He was Morehouse [university] bound at 15 and received his PhD [Degree] at 26," Raiya Goodman of Cornelius Elementary School told the crowd about Dr. King.

"I can continue to follow his commitment through education and service," said Matthias McBride of Pleasantville Elementary School.

"Take my prescription and get it filled immediately. Follow the instructions carefully. If you do stuff there won't be any need for a follow up," said Morgan Hunter, a student from Dodson Elementary School, and the 15th Annual Gardere MLK Jr. Oratory Competition winner "I really wasn't expecting to win first-place because this is my first time [competing with students] so it was really shocking.

"He did lots of stuff for us to get us where we are now."

"In my personal and professional life, one word: education," said Jaylon Marion of Thompson Elementary School regarding the inspiration and motivation Dr. King has provided for him and other students.

According to the event organizers, Hunter will receive a $1,000 savings bond for her victory. Officials said the second-and third-place contestants as well as remaining finalists will also receive savings bonds but in different amounts.