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Thirteen-year-old Hakeem Bennett won a national essay contest for writing about his teacher as a real-life hero. That earned Hakeem a place in a book called "The Kid Who Saved Superman."
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 6/19/2009 6:28:17 PM ET 2009-06-19T22:28:17

A New York City eighth-grader's essay about a personal hero has landed him and his favorite teacher a role in a Superman book.

Thirteen-year-old Hakeem Bennett, a special-needs student at Public School 36 in Brooklyn, won the Stone Arch Books national essay contest.

Students wrote about their real-life heroes. Hakeem chose his eighth-grade teacher, Matthew Brown.

Brown is blind in one eye and has tunnel vision in the other and uses a guide dog. Hakeem writes in his essay that the courageous way Brown lives his life, despite his disability, makes him a true hero.

The essay earned Hakeem and his teacher a role in the book "The Kid Who Saved Superman." In it, students are trapped after an earthquake. Superman comes to the rescue but needs help when he's weakened by kryptonite.

Enter Hakeem, who saves the day.

"The Kid Who Saved Superman" is part of a larger series of chapter books called "DC Super Heroes," which feature new stories of Superman and Batman and original art by DC Comics.

'Bragging rights'
In real life, Hakeem got his first peek at the glossy book Tuesday. "Is this for real?" he asked, as he held a copy.

"I'm excited to show everyone the book. Now I've got bragging rights," Hakeem said, according to The New York Daily News. "I'm proud of myself. If you go to school and do good, good will come out of it."

"He was totally blown away," Principal Johanna Schneider told msnbc.com. "He has to take it all in and digest it."

Hakeem's class graduated Thursday and he will be attending a special-needs high school next fall, said Schneider.

"We really think he's going to be a real success. This opportunity, I personally feel, really has boosted his self-esteem," Schneider said.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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