DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Ten students at Springfield City Schools were recognized Tuesday as finalists in the “Do the Write Thing” essay challenge.

The writing contest is a national program that asks middle schoolers to explain how youth violence affects them. Writers also share what they can to help stop youth violence by doing the right thing.

The Springfield program received 500 submissions from students in Hayward, Roosevelt and Schaefer middle schools. The award ceremony took place at the John Legend Theater.

Joshua Woods, a freshman who participated in the challenge last year, said the assignment was eye opening.

“I feel like there are many causes for youth violence, but personally, I think one of the reasons is the fact that they just can’t talk to people. Even as I was writing this last year, it was painful and excruciating, and I felt bare, exposed to the judgement of the world,” Woods said.

“For the people who are going through the same thing, they shouldn’t hold in these feelings. It causes them to act out, and it causes them to hurt people if they don’t know what to do with the feelings.”

Among Springfield’s 10 finalists, Jackson and Juelz Clark will join six students from the other participating districts as Ohio’s ambassadors to the national conference in July in Washington, D.C.

The top 10 stories have been printed as a booklet to be shared across the state.

The students selected as finalists are Lilleyaynna Bowshier, Elise Brown, Juelz Clark, Ta’riyah Dotts-Beal, Bryson Hinshaw, Corinna Jackson, Ty’Shawn Long, MiYanah Owens, Natalie Robinson and Elizabeth Whitmore.

You can read their essays here.