The textbook publisher McGraw-Hill and B'nai B'rith International recognize Columbus area high school students for writing and illustrating children's books on diversity

Last week, McGraw-Hill Education partnered with B'nai B'rith International to host the first Columbus Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge. Ten students from Olentangy Orange,New Albany andWesterville Central high schoolswere finalists in the children's book writing and illustration contest. Winning students were recognized during a ceremony at the Thurber House.

Olentangy Orange students Amanda Ba and Meghan McCloskeytook home first place (pictured at right with B'nai B'rith board member Peter Perlman, courtesy McGraw-Hill).

Earlier this year B'nai B'rith approached McGraw-Hill about sponsoring the contest in Columbus. More than 800 McGraw-Hill employees are based in Columbus, one of the largest locations companywide.

"We were so blown away by this. They've been doing it for nine years now in a bunch of cities across the country. It was very impressive," says Dan Sieger, vice president of corporate communications and marketing for McGraw-Hill Education. The competition's focus on diversity and tolerance appealed to McGraw-Hill, Sieger says.

"We understand how important is is to teach diversity in the classroom. We've seen first-hand the difference that diversity education can make for young people. We know how being creative and creating your own product matters for young people," says Sieger. "In the end, that's why we want to support like-minded organizations."

The company will also sponsor the B'nai B'rith Distinguished Achievement Awards dinner in New York on Thursday.