New Century students win Optimist essay contest
MADISON – High school students proved their understanding of “Leading by Example: Reality or Fiction,” the theme for Optimist Club of Madison’s 2016 essay contest.
Three students at New Century High School in Huntsville were selected for the best essays from 62 entries. The first-place winner was Cheyenne Vance, followed by Cody Holland in second place and Dilan Clardy with third. Karen Elliott teaches these students.
Dr. Frank Flemmish, contest chairman, presented certificates and checks to winners at an awards ceremony.
In her essay, Vance wrote the following passage: “A leader who sticks to his or her word is far more trustworthy than one who preaches one thing and yet practices another. The boss who stays late with his employees to reach a deadline is far more respected than the boss who tells his employees to stay late while leaving early himself.”
Judges were Dr. Daniel Schenker, Pat Carter and Flemmish. Schenker, former English department chair at the University in Huntsville, noted that “the quality of writing in terms of basic composition. I often hear complaints that students today can’t write a coherent sentence, but there was no evidence of that in these essays.”
“Students all had a firm grasp not only of grammar and mechanics, but also of the more challenging task of presenting an argument logically,” Schenker said.
“What distinguished the top-ranked writers for me was their ability to see beyond the obvious aspects of the assigned topic.”
“Generals and politicians come to mind when we think of leaders, but family and friends, and even we ourselves, can demonstrate these qualities in daily life,” Schenker said. “Leadership is also not always an unalloyed good. I liked how some essays explored lighter and darker elements.”
The essay contest is one example of annual scholarship contests by Optimist International. “The contest is designed to develop writing and critical thinking skills and provide students the opportunity to earn money for higher education,” Optimist Mike Doyle said.
Each year, Optimist International awards one $2,500 scholarship to each district. “This is in addition to the Madison club’s prize of $300 for each male and female first-place winner,” Doyle said.
Optimists meet monthly on the first and third Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. at Picasso’s Grill, 12060 County Line Road.
For more information, call 256-772-8148 or 256-461-8787.