Apr 10, 2018

Ridgeview’s Ely Potter Wins ‘Peace’ Competition

Ely Potter prepares to speak to Lions Club in New York

When Ely Potter speaks – and when he writes – it pays to listen.

The Ridgeview STEM Junior High School eighth grader’s words about peace were powerful enough to land him first place in an international writing competition sponsored by Lion’s Club. Potter presented his comments in a speech to the organization’s annual meeting in New York City on March 24.

Potter, whose vision is impaired due to a genetic condition called Crouzon Syndrome, was encouraged to submit a speech on the topic of “Peace” by his vision specialist, Julie Didlick, during one of his IEP meetings. His comments to the organization were powerful – but we’ll let Ely’s words from part of his essay speak for themselves:

“With weapons gone and hearts brighter than Heaven itself, we will all enter a new world; a world with not only peace, but nonviolence,” Ely wrote. “I might not be in that new world, but I can see it through my crooked eyes and my foggy glasses, and most of all I can feel it in my heavenly heart, because as I said, ‘Peace isn’t an object that you can touch. It’s something you can feel.’ This is how I see peace in the future, as a nonviolent world. Even though I can’t see well through my two eyes, I can see it clearly in my heart.”

Potter said when he was introduced to the idea of the essay he was very confident he was up to the task of putting his thoughts onto paper in a powerful way.

“I love writing essays, poetry, stories… anything,” Potter said. “I don’t think (Ms. Didlick) thought I took it seriously, because I knew it was going to be a breeze. I love writing so much, that I knew I was going to kill it.”

After his essay was selected as the winning entry at the Delaware Chapter of Lions Club and then at the state level, he learned he would be headed to New York for the organization’s international meeting. He had the opportunity to read his 500-word essay at that convention. Although he said he felt like he was “speaking in front of the whole world,” he wasn’t nervous.

“Whenever I read to people, I kind of feel free,” he said. “It’s like I’m letting all my words out. It kind of clears my mind. It feels good.”

The initial draft of his speech was about 800 words long, but that took him less than an hour to write. Paring that back to the allotted 500 words took weeks, he said.

The end result, though, is a powerful message about peace, intertwined with Ely’s own perceptions of the world.

“There are many fabulous things that the human eye can see and our hearts can feel,” he wrote. “Many of those things can be the darkness of pain and depression. Most of those feelings come from chaos and destruction. But, know this now, the eternal feeling we know as peace can be stronger than those negative feelings. When there is peace, no darkness or evil will corrupt our world.”

Ely Potter, you make #PLSDproud!