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Facing History Together Student Essay Winners of 2017

The international nonprofit organization Facing History and Ourselves announced the 10 student winners of the 2017 Facing History Together Student Essay Contest. The contest is an annual event inviting students 13 years or older from across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom to provide their perspectives on a topic that helps shape their world.

This year’s contest, “Making Choices in Today’s World,” asked students to reflect on a powerful quote from the late Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate, and write an essay on choices they have made thus far and how their future choices will ultimately have a great impact on their lives and those around them.

“The essays that were submitted were of such impressive quality,” said Facing History’s President & CEO Roger Brooks. “Facing History is proud to empower these young authors to think critically about the impact of bigotry and prejudice, and we are proud of how their ideas can help change the world for the better.”

Nearly 5,200 7th-12th grade students across the US, UK, and Canada submitted essays and, with the help of over 100 judges and over 10,000 online voters, Facing History selected 10 essays that best encapsulate this year’s theme.

Thanks to the generous support of Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation’s Holocaust Remembrance Project, Facing History presented the winning students, and their teachers and classrooms, with over $25,000 in scholarships and prizes.

“We congratulate our winning essayists and thank them for sharing their personal insights and reflections as to how they will use the lessons of the Holocaust to help bring positive change into our world,” said Elias Matsakis, president of the Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation. “Special thanks to the more than 100 judges who took the time to read these thoughtful essays. I expect, like me, they were changed for the better by the experience.”

This year, three $5,000 Upstander Scholarships were awarded with each of their teachers receiving a $500 Classroom Award. In addition, seven $1,000 Upstander Awards were also awarded with their teachers receiving a $250 Classroom Award.

You can read the winning student essays at: contest.facinghistory.org/choices

We are proud to present the 2017 Facing History Student Essay Contest Winners:

Winners of a $5,000 Upstander Scholarship

Claire Cao, Class of 2020
Tohickon Middle School, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
“Speak Up”

Charlie Kolodziej, Class of 2018
Western Reserve Academy, Hudson, Ohio
“Why I No Longer Hide My Rainbow”

Eniola Ajao, Class of 2017
Northfield Mount Hermon School, Gill, Massachusetts
“On Ubuntu”

Winners of a $1,000 Upstander Award

Reed Cleland, Class of 2018
Homer Senior High School, Homer, New York
“The Conscientious Cooperator”

Tashia Ethridge, Class of 2018
Enka High School, Candler, North Carolina
“A Hard ‘R'”

Morgan Guess, Class of 2021
Lone Oak Middle School, Paducah, Kentucky
“Pushing Through Fear”

Erin Kelley, Class of 2019
Belleville East High School, Belleville, Illinois
“Ripple Effect”

Neha Middela, Class of 2019
International Academy, Bloomfield, Michigan
“What Malala Taught Me”

Ivy Sauberan, Class of 2019
Homeschooled, La Mesa, California
“Broken Children”

Kaitlin Wong, Class of 2018
Carlmont High School, Belmont, California
“Choices”

You can read the winning student essays at: contest.facinghistory.org/choices

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