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Optimists award teacher grants, essay winners

MADISON – In keeping with the organization’s giving spirit to local education, Optimist Club of Madison presented prizes to winners in its essay contest and awarded thousands in grants to teachers for 17 school causes and activities in Madison City Schools.

Optimist President Ann van Leeuwen and Grant and Essay Chairperson Scott Piro presented the awards to the Madison teachers and students at a Madison Board of Education meeting.

In the student essay contest, Justin Roh won first-place honors among 47 contestants. Andrew Crocker took second place, and Millie Hoksbergen achieved third place. They all attend Bob Jones High School.

In his essay, Roh referenced his swimming regiment: “Some people wake up to a warm, bright ray of sunlight shining through their bedroom window. Others wake up to the sound of bacon sizzling on the stove . . . Now imagine a different perspective. Imagine waking up to a dull alarm, cold and groggy, barely conscious at four in the morning. I am alone . . . This was a basic commitment I made to push myself to improve.”

The Optimists recognized Nichole Murray, English/Language Arts teacher at Bob Jones, as the outstanding teacher for the student essays for encouraging students to enter.

An essay’s word count was 700 to 800 words. Retired teachers and Madison residents served as judges. Cash awards for essay winners and advocate teacher totaled $730.

“Optimism: How It Connects Us” was the 2023-2024 essay theme. Optimist International sponsors the contest to allow young people to develop their own views around a central idea. Participants can win a college scholarship. (optimist.org)

In addition, Optimists awarded $3,400 in grants to 17 MCS programs across various schools. The grants were earmarked for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics or STEM; English as a Second Language or ESL; library needs; Greenpower racing; teams in math and robotics, along with others.

“I want to thank the Optimist Club for its faithful support of our schools,” MCS Superintendent Dr. Ed Nichols said in his “District Update.”

In other support, Madison Optimists presented $400 to Boy Scouts. “We support two Scout packs, one in Madison and another in Monrovia,” van Leeuwen said.

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