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RHS Freshman Breaks Barriers
Riverbank High School freshman Kayla Savory won the grand prize in the MLB 2015 Breaking Barriers Essay Contest which included a class trip to a San Francisco Giants game this past Sunday. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS


Major League Baseball (MLB) along with Scholastic held a 2015 Breaking Barriers in Sports, in Life Essay Contest for students in fourth through ninth grades and Pre-AP English teacher Stacy Bauer at Riverbank High School had her students participate.

Bauer explained that she has the students participate in contests in order to change up their audience and that writing for many purposes and audiences is very important to developing writers.

On April 2 the Grand Prize Winner was selected and a call was made to Bauer to inform her that ninth grader, Kayla Savory, out of thousands of entries was selected as the grand prize winner.

Sharon Robinson, who is Jackie Robinson’s daughter, contacted Savory on Sunday, April 5 to congratulate her. Jackie Robinson was the first African American to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball and, in his honor, all players recently wore his No. 42 to commemorate Jackie Robinson Day.

“Normally I want to get the essays over with that are assigned but this time I found this one very interesting because I knew what I wanted to write about,” said Savory regarding taking part. “I wanted to write about my barriers and that I overcame them and everything is better now.”

The students are asked to write an essay about a barrier that they have faced using one or more of Jackie Robinson’s nine values of citizenship, commitment, courage, determination, excellence, integrity, justice, persistence, and teamwork to deal with the barrier.

The essay had to be between 500 to 1200 words and was evaluated for proper grammar and correct spelling. The essays also had to be factual and based on the student’s real-life experience.

The entire class participated in the essay contest and part of the grand prize was to attend a San Francisco Giants game, which they did this past Sunday where they met Sharon Robinson, rookie player Justin Maxwell, and former Giants player Shawon Dunston.

“Sharon talked to our whole group about overcoming barriers,” said Bauer. “She explained how the scoring of the essays went and the many reads that each went through.

“She was an inspiring speaker with a beautiful outlook on life.”

The grand prize for Savory also included a laptop and two World Series tickets; a class set of books that were autographed by Robinson which she wrote called “Promises to Keep,” a tablet for Bauer, and Breaking Barriers T-shirts for the whole class.

“It makes me feel pretty great,” stated Savory. “This is really cool and exciting.”

Living with her grandparents in Riverbank, Savory couldn’t believe that this was happening to her and even asked her teacher if it was an April Fool’s joke at first.

There were 36 students that went to the Giants game on Sunday along with Savory’s family, teacher, principal and superintendent.

“The day was beautiful and the kids had a blast,” added Bauer. “It was really fun.”

Along with regular studies, Savory participates in drama and leadership and has plans to attend college after high school to possibly become a paramedic.

“Kayla worked very hard on this essay,” stated Bauer. “I was so happy to see her using some of the writing techniques she has learned in class like metaphor, allusion, and parallel structure.”

“We are incredibly excited for Kayla and her achievement,” stated RHS Principal Sean Richey.

Extremely excited about this grand prize, Savory will be enjoying the 2015 World Series with her Papa.

“Anything is possible, I didn’t think this would happen and it did,” added Savory. “It feels amazing.”