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Sanders Announces Winners of State of the Union Essay Contest    
Friday, February 08 2013 @ 06:06 PM GMT+4
Contributed by: Anonymous

PoliticsBURLINGTON, Vt., Feb. 8 – With President Barack Obama set to deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today announced the winner and top finalists in his annual State of the Union essay contest for Vermont high school students.

A panel of four Vermont teachers judged the essays and selected Caroline Braun, a junior at Champlain Valley Union High School, as the winner. “There is no simple cure for the abundant issues plaguing our nation,” Braun wrote. “Not only are we recovering from a recession, but we also are confronting challenges related to climate change, health care, and education. As a world leader and role model for democracy and peace, we need initiatives that not only connect people and communities, but also ones that will act as catalysts for change.”

Emily Ellsworth, a junior at Colchester High School, finished second in the essay contest. Genevieve Chiola, a freshman at Mt. Abraham Union High School, finished in third place. In addition to the top three essays, 21 essays were selected as finalists.

Altogether, more than 300 high school students from dozens of high schools throughout Vermont submitted essays on what they consider the major issues facing the United States and how they view the state of the union.

“I am pleased that we had more students participating this year than last,” Sanders said. “I hope, in the years to come, the number of students and schools that participate continue to grow. We need our young people to be engaged, to help find solutions for the problems that confront us, and to think about the future of our country. This is what democracy is all about.”

“I’m so impressed with the essays. Every year they get better,” said Terri Vest, who teaches at Plainfield’s Twinfield Union School and has served as a judge in Sanders’ essay contest each year. “It went all the way from personal narrative to formal papers – and they were wonderful.”

Sanders will enter the essays of the winner and the finalists into the Congressional Record. The finalists will also have the opportunity to participate in a roundtable discussion with Sanders to discuss the issues they wrote about in their essays. The roundtable has been scheduled for March 9 at South Burlington High School.

The U.S. Constitution calls for the president to “give to the Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” For the last three years, as the president prepares his State of the Union speech, Sanders’ essay contest has asked Vermont’s high school students to write an essay of 250 words to 500 words about their view of the “state of the union.”

In the three years Sanders has held the contest, more than 850 students from schools throughout Vermont have written essays addressing such important issues as the declining middle class, climate change, gun control, health care reform and the rising cost of a college education.

The top three essays and the finalists for this year’s essay contest are listed below.

Winner: Caroline Braun, 11th grade, Champlain Valley Union High School
Second Place: Emily Ellsworth, 11th grade, Colchester High School
Third Place: Genevieve Chiola, 9th grade, Mt. Abraham Union High School

Finalists (in alphabetical order)

· Sydney Alderman, Mt. Abraham Union High School
· Annie Arthur, Woodstock Union High School
· Jeannine Bissonette, Champlain Valley Union High School
· Jonah Blatt, Milton High School
· Tyler Bradley, South Burlington High School
· Allie Bull, Champlain Valley Union High School
· Emma Davitt, Champlain Valley Union High School
· Taryn Druge, Champlain Valley Union High School
· Riley Forbes, Mt. Abraham Union High School
· Damon Fulcher, South Royalton High School
· Benjamin Gilbert, Milton High School
· Liam Hayes, Vergennes Union High
· Christie Kershaw, South Burlington High School
· Sonia Lowen, Champlain Valley Union High School
· Alexandra McFarland, Woodstock Union High School
· Rachel Moore, South Royalton High School
· Derryk O'Grady, Milton High School
· Saleban Olow, Winooski High School
· Robert Pennypacker, St. Johnsbury Academy
· Rebecca Potter, Brattleboro Union High School
· Austin Price, Mt. Anthony Union High School

Read the winning essays at http://www.sanders.senate.gov/stateoftheunion/ or by clicking here.


Contact: Michael Briggs (202) 224-5141


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  • Sanders Announces Winners of State of the Union Essay Contest | 3 comments | Create New Account
    The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they may say.
    Brattleboro Finalist
    Authored by: cgrotke on Friday, February 08 2013 @ 06:09 PM GMT+4
    Brattleboro's Rebecca Potter was a finalist. Here is here essay, from the collection at Sanders' link:

    ....

    Rebecca Potter
    Brattleboro Union High School 12th
    ESSAY 146

    Congress is dysfunctional because of priority discrepancies. Some in our government seem to believe that holds, filibusters, and less legal tactics of delay and obstruction serve as necessary means to a greater GOP-dominated end. Others argue that while disagreement is key in a true democracy, so is compromise. Certain members of the Senate, where unanimous consent remains relevant in the scheduling and timing of legislation, stand by “holding” the Senate’s progress on a bill or committee action. Others point out that this is 2012, where a hold in Senate exists as a euphemism for indefinite or permanent vetoes, often done in secret. In both houses, many forget that the true party holding the majority in Congress are the white, heterosexual, wealthy men.

    While Congress’ dysfunctionality directly correlates with the partisan gridlock we’ve been witnessing over the past four years, this has more to do with flaws in the system itself rather than the puppets within it. Sure, people are selfish and want the connections voting a certain way or hiring a specific set of hands will bring--but what ingenious economic system provides the impetus for such action? Capitalism, at the root of it all, enables members of Congress and the wealthy holding the strings above them to exist as money-motivated figures of power. Privatization of education, healthcare, and human services create the legislative standstill we’ve got in Congress, which dedicates an absurd amount of time to arguing over non-issues in a partisan lock. This allows legislation that matters often gets nixed in committee or shoved through without necessary debate.

    Capitalist society has created a dysfunctional Congress, and until we fix the system we will keep getting the same results. The band-aid for this infectious situation is compromise in the Senate and House of Representatives-- impending compromise, I predict, what with a certain cliff looming over our heads. Antibiotics for a more permanent change would mean a re-evaluation of everything we’ve grown up being told was “American”: federalized elections, spending limits on campaigns, socialized care for humans and our unalienable rights (health, education, safety), and public ownership of the land of the free.

    Sanders Announces Winners of State of the Union Essay Contest
    Authored by: RLElkins on Saturday, February 09 2013 @ 09:53 AM GMT+4
    This three paragraph essay is why so many parents in the Brattleboro enroll their children in private school.
    Sanders Announces Winners of State of the Union Essay Contest
    Authored by: mr.mike on Saturday, February 09 2013 @ 07:08 PM GMT+4
    They should be proud of themselves Elkins. They've created another Vermont Socialist. While else would Sanders pick this one.

    ---
    “No man’s life, liberty or property is safe as long as the legislature is in session.” Ben Franklin.