What kind of superhero are you?

For eight-year-old Semaj Wright, a third-grade student at Allendale Elementary School, she knows exactly what kind of a hero and superhero her teacher, Antoinette Benford, or Mrs. Benford, is.

“She is hard working,” Semaj said referring to her teacher, while she smiled. “She is the last person to leave the school. She is funny, interesting, and my hero.”

Allendale Elementary School, located at 3670 Penniman Avenue in Oakland, is home to approximately 475 students in grades pre-K through 5. Not only is Semaj one of 475 kids at her school, but she was also one of 2,000 students from grades 3 through 6 to enter Capstone and DC Comics Fan Family’s nationwide super hero inspired writing contest, “Be a Super Hero: Read!

According to Semaj’s mother, Tanaya Wright, Mrs. Benford was the person who first introduced Semaj to the competition that has received intrigued from kids all across the country. Last month, Wright said that the entire school and community were thrilled to learn that Semaj was selected as one of the five finalists for the grand prize in the contest, which consists of a VIP trip for four to tour Warner Bros. Animation Studios and DC Entertainment Offices — the home of Superman and Batman — and $2,500 to the hero described in the winning entry to donate to a charity of his or her choice.

“I didn’t know about the contest at first, so when I found out, I started screaming,” Wright said. “Semaj is very independent and she didn’t come to me for help. I wasn’t surprised that she was chosen as a finalist because Semaj always strives for the best.”

Capstone and DC Comics Fan Family, the online hub for DC Entertainment’s family-friendly news and information on DC Comics superheroes, wanted to develop a contest that encourages children to write about a real hero in their lives. Each contestant who submitted an entry was instructed to describe the human powers (such as courage, kindness, generosity) which make his or her hero special.

“From remarkable family members to incredible educators and community helpers, the heroes of the stories we received were described in touching and heartfelt language,” Ashley Andersen Zantop, Capstone group publisher and general manager, said. “Our contest gave children a platform to reflect on and articulate the ‘superpowers’ of a real-life hero, and we learned so much about these remarkable young people through their writing.”

Although Semaj didn’t win the grand prize, she will receive a set of the new Superman book series, “The Man of Steel” chapter books. Aside from that, Wright said her daughter has made a major accomplishment among her friends and peers.

“It is amazing to me that she has a teacher who she can feel is like a hero to her,” Wright said. “My baby makes me proud all the time. She is a good kid and her family has special things planned for her in the upcoming months.”

For Semaj, the experience of participating in this type of writing contest has definitely opened her eyes, and exposed her fellow classmates to the notion of recognizing someone that has such an important job in society: her teacher, Mrs. Benford. In many ways, she feels that being able to have the opportunity to both have fun and share her story with other children is something that she would like to do again in the near future.

“I feel lucky that I was chosen as a finalist,” Semaj said. “I would like to compete in the writing contest again. My mom would be the person I would choose as my hero if I had the opportunity to compete in the contest again.”

“If I could give some advice to another student that was thinking about entering this contest next year, I would tell him or her to not be scared, and that you can do it,” Semaj said. “My favorite superheroes are Wonder Woman and Superman. And if I could have any superpower, I would like to be able to fly. That way I could see all the views and the tallest building in the world.”

Below you can find an edited version of the original writing entry from Semaj Wright

My real super hero in my life is Mrs. Benford. She is my third grade teacher. Her super powers helps her change our classroom into a wonderful place to learn. She is generous, caring and hard working. Because of these qualities, our school is a better place than it was before she came. Mrs. Benford is generous. Every day we are given a quote that helps us become the best we can be. We talk about it so we can understand them. Mrs. Benford is hard working. She goes to other schools to learn how to be a better teacher. But I think that she is already a great teacher. She teaches the right way all the time. She sings and makes up songs to keep us laughing and learning. She tries hard to help us get it. That takes a super power there! Mrs. Benford has superpowers that she uses every day. I have never had a teacher like her. This is why she is my super hero.


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