Imagine being mayor of Buffalo and having the chance to solve some of the city’s most challenging problems.

That is exactly what a local essay-writing contest is asking Buffalo schoolchildren to do: Put themselves in the mayor’s shoes and explain how they would address violence in the community, the need for more jobs and the education of students in the Buffalo Public Schools.

Students in grades 6 to 12 can participate in the essay contest, which is sponsored by Eva M. Doyle, a retired teacher who taught for many years at Campus West School in the city.

“Essay contests are a way for students to let people know what they think about,” said Doyle, who lives near the Broadway Market and has been writing a weekly column in the Buffalo Criterion about African-American history for more than 30 years.

Essay participants must describe their solutions to two out of three challenges facing the city: “If you were the mayor of Buffalo, what would you do to reduce violence, increase employment for all citizens and improve the education of students?”

Doyle, who retired from Buffalo Public Schools in 2004, has created more than 75 essay contests over the last three or four years, she said.

The themes for many of them are associated with a main topic of the day.

Around the holidays a couple of years ago, for instance, she challenged students to think about creating their own holiday and writing about what it would be and how it would be celebrated.

During the last presidential race, the topic was creating a political party.

“What would you name it. What would it stand for? What are some of the issues your party would be concerned about?” she said.

For a Mother’s Day essay contest last year, she asked children to nominate someone for “mother of the year” and explain why.

This year’s mayoral race was the motivation behind this most recent contest.

“I want the young people to be involved in some way, and I thought imagining they were the mayor of Buffalo would be interesting to them,” she said.

The essay should not exceed two typed pages in length. All must be neat, and ideas must be clearly stated.

The student’s name, address, grade and school must be included, as well as two phone numbers where he or she can be reached.

All completed essays should be turned in at Frank E. Merriweather Jr. Library, 1324 Jefferson Ave., prior to closing time Aug. 17.

There’s also a chance to earn extra credit on a topic associated with Marcus Garvey, a black nationalist and political leader in the early 1900s whose birthday falls on the same day as the deadline for the essays.

Students can increase their scores by answering the additional question: “Imagine that you were the mayor, describe how you can use the principles of Marcus Garvey in your job.”

Answering the optional question will require some research to find out about Garvey, Doyle said.

Prizes are: first place, $75; second place, $50; and third place, $25. For more information, call Doyle at 847-6010 or 507-5280.

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