Doherty student places 2nd in Breaking Barriers contest

By: Sherri Kolade | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published May 15, 2013

 Fifth-grade Doherty Elementary student Griffin Miller’s classmates smile in class after recently receiving Breaking Bariers T-shirts from the national 2013 Breaking Barriers essay contest. Miller placed second in the contest.

Fifth-grade Doherty Elementary student Griffin Miller’s classmates smile in class after recently receiving Breaking Bariers T-shirts from the national 2013 Breaking Barriers essay contest. Miller placed second in the contest.

Photo courtesy of Doherty Elementary School staff

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — Nearly blind fifth-grade Doherty Elementary student Griffin Miller is not certain if, given the chance, he would want to see.

Griffin describes this uncertainty in an essay that ranked him — among four others — second place in the national 2013 Breaking Barriers Essay Contest, in which 18,700 fourth- through eighth-grade students submitted essays, according to www.mlb.com.

“I both did and didn’t want to be cured at the same time,” the essay reads.

Griffin said in his essay that he wanted to be able to see because he “would not be mistreated.” But he also said he didn’t want to see because he was used to being blind.

“My life is hard sometimes, but I have gotten used to having differences,” he said.

Griffin received a laptop, a class set of books on Jackie Robinson, and Breaking Barriers T-shirts for his class.

He also received a phone call from Robinson’s daughter, Sharon Robinson.

“I was really proud of myself for the whole thing,” he told C & G. “This is the first year we’ve had somebody win the contest.”

The essay contest gives students the opportunity to share personal stories and how they use Jackie Robinson’s values to face their own barriers and challenges.

Griffin, 10, was born with Leber’s congenital amaurosis, a visual impairment that left him nearly blind.

Doherty teacher Claudette Daniels said this year was the first time she heard feedback from essay contest officials.

“I’ve entered it the last three years,” she said. “What was cool about Griffin’s (essay) is that he is strong in informational writing or expository writing,” she said. “But this time, he did an anecdote first, and then he dived into his essay about dealing with (blindness).”

Griffin’s topic of choice was a combination of persistence and determination.

“I used an anecdote just to add interest,” he said. “Mrs. Daniels teaches us a lot about that stuff. No writing phase is good the first time. Sometimes it takes 50 times.”

School officials plan to recognize Griffin’s achievement May 15.

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