CHARLESTON, W.Va. _ West Virginia is celebrating the life of Martin Luther King Jr. with a variety of activities across the state.
The holiday activities in Charleston begin on Saturday as state Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine presides over the annual awards luncheon at the Cultural Center at 11 a.m. Winners of the Project on Racism essay contest as well as the poster contest will be recognized along with the Living the Dream award honorees. Dr. Hazo Carter, chairman of the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission and president of West Virginia State University also will participate. The Capitol Gala will follow that evening at the Cultural Center beginning at 7 p.m.
Celebration activities continue on Jan. 21 with an ecumenical service at the Asbury Methodist Church on Elizabeth Street in Charleston at 10 a.m. The service will be followed by a symbolic march to the Capitol Complex for a Bell Ringing Ceremony at the Liberty Bell on the North Portico at noon. A reception will follow at the Cultural Center.
Student winners to be recognized include Claire-Elizabeth Ford, Gerrardstown; Marquise Dunn, Wheeling; Hailey Sirbaugh, Martinsburg; Michael Mills, Princeton; Savannah Austen, Wheeling; Madelyne Barnett, Hometown; Katrina Stewart, Elm Grove, Charnequia Brooks, Huntington; Laura Marsh, Sherrard; Katee Conaway, St. Marys; Matthew Leo, Wheeling; BrittanyShields, Clarksburg; Courtney Welch, Ansted; Marguerite Kemp-Shelton, Lewisburg; Mariah Lynn Dawson, Blacksville; Keniston Grizzell, Upton; Aaron McCallister, Upton; Riley Adkins, Delbarton; Stephen Justice, Delbarton; Iwan Wasiljew, Ashton; Tiana Warner, Keyser; Jonah Coleman, Delbarton; Robert W. Crank II, Ashton; and Savannah Marr, Mason.
Individuals being honored for their contributions to human and civil rights, scholarship and other areas include High Rocks for Girls, Hillsboro; John David, Connie Park Rice, Roslyn Clark-Artis; and the Rev. Lloyd Allan Hill.
All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission at (304) 558-0162.