Both stories involved 21 or 22 students. Both unfolded at the same time yesterday evening. Our night reporter could only cover one. And I had to put away iPhone, laptop and any other means of communication to focus on the other story. Talk about a challenge.
Every year, I have had the honor of joining the judges of the Martin Luther King Jr. essay/speech contest. The passion and determination found in those speeches continue to amaze me. This year's 22 finalists were no exception, as the sixth- through 12th-graders took the stage one after the other in front of more than 100 friends and family (and the five judges!).
But at the same time these 22 students were wowing us with their speeches, another 21 students -- classmates of some of the contestants -- were being rushed to area hospitals after their school bus crashed into a tractor-trailer in East Manatee. Before I had to turn off all ringers, their conditions were still unknown.
Thankfully, all injuries were minor, and the school district appears to be doing everything possible for the families involved. One of our stories today captures on video just how terrified the students were.
So we can praise our MLK winners without fears for their fellow classmates. That truly is a cause for celebration.
Here's a link to all the winners, and we will publish the winning entries on Jan. 15 in the Bradenton Herald.