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Sanders announces winners of fourteenth annual State of the Union Essay Contest for Vermont Students  

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Sanders will host the finalists at the Vermont State House on Saturday, March 9 for a roundtable discussion about their essays

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BURLINGTON, Vt., Feb. 22 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday announced the winners of his fourteenth annual State of the Union Essay Contest, which gives Vermont high school students the opportunity to describe a major issue facing our country and propose what they would do to solve it. This year, 454 students from 27 Vermont high schools submitted essays. A panel of seven Vermont educators served as volunteer judges, ranking the essays and selecting 12 finalists and three winners.
 
Since Sanders started the contest, more than 6,100 students throughout Vermont have written essays about critically important issues, including climate change, racial justice, access to mental health care, immigration reform, disability rights, and political polarization.
 
“Each year, I am moved reading the many essays we receive,” said Sanders. “These young Vermonters are thinking critically about the many challenges we face and how we can address them. Young people are the future of our country and it is very heartening to see them actively engaged. Thank you to all the students who participated, to their teachers for encouraging these important conversations, and to our judges for volunteering their time to review hundreds of essays. I am looking forward to another excellent roundtable discussion with this year’s finalists.” 
 
Sanders has invited the 15 winners and finalists to join him for a roundtable discussion, which will be held at the Vermont State House on Saturday, March 9. Sanders has also entered the finalists’ essays into the Congressional Record, the official archive of the U.S. Congress. The contest is timed to coincide with the President’s annual address to a joint session of Congress, which is taking place on Thursday, March 7. 
 
Leah Frisbie, from Essex High School, won first-place with an essay on attempts to ban books from school libraries: “The banning of books in the United States is a pressing problem that deprives people across the country from perspectives, information, and freedom…Through attempts to ban books, marginalized groups’ stories and perspectives are silenced. The act of banning books diminishes the quality and purpose of education… Congress must pass the Fight Banned Books Act in order to protect the nation from the needless deprivation of information. The issues occurring in society, such as gender and race inequalities, deserve to be shared in libraries.”
 
Abigail Curry, the second-place winner from Mount Mansfield Union High School, wrote about the lack of access to clean, drinkable water for many Native Americans: “Research by the House Committee on Natural Resources showed that 48% of Native Americans living on reservations in the U.S. don’t have a reliable source of clean, drinkable water-a proportion 80x higher than the 0.6% of all Americans who don’t have access to drinking water…The indigenous water crisis is a complicated issue that will only get harder to solve as climate change continues to worsen droughts in the U.S. That being said, there is a path to a solution. First, the Supreme Court must overturn their decision in Arizona v. Navajo Nation.”
 
Leah Fitzgerald, the third-place winner from Bellows Free Academy Saint Albans, wrote about homelessness in America: “The 2023 Point in Time (PIT) count conducted by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) revealed the disheartening truth that over 653,104 American citizens were experiencing homelessness on a single night in January of last year…Interning at a local emergency housing shelter during high school allowed me to witness these numbers in real life. Distributing gloves, hats, blankets, and food could not overshadow the fact many would be sleeping outside in the cold Vermont weather without a roof over their heads…By expanding programs such as HOME, PRO Housing, or TBRA will encourage land use and support the housing market. New units can specifically be sectioned off for homeless populations under PBRA. Upon entering such housing, citizens need to be connected with behavioral, mental, medical and financial services funded by programs like SSA and HHS. Programs under the HUD should also be adequately funded through the national budget.”
 
The winners of this year’s contest:
1. First place: Leah Frisbie, Essex High School, Junior
2. Second place: Abigail Curry, Mount Mansfield Union High School, Junior
3. Third place: Leah Fitzgerald, Bellows Free Academy Saint Albans, Senior
 
The finalists of this year’s contest (in alphabetical order by last name):
1. Liliana Dicks, Oxbow High School, Junior
2. Patterson Frazier, Champlain Valley Union High School, Junior
3. Jack French, Essex High School, Junior
4. Talia Gibbs, Vermont Commons School, Senior 
5. Delia Gould, Brattleboro Union High School, Freshman
6. Olivia Gray, South Burlington High School, Freshman
7. Maddy McHale, Burlington High School, Freshman
8. Andres Miguez, Mount Mansfield Union High School, Junior
9. Oliver Nichols, Burlington High School, Freshman
10. Thomas Scheetz, Mount Anthony Union High School, Senior
11. Magdelina Short, Bellows Free Academy Fairfax, Sophomore 
12. Jackson Wheaton, Northfield Middle High School, Freshman 
 
To read the essays of the winners and finalists, click here
 
To learn more about opportunities for Vermont students through Senator Sanders’ office, visit: https://www.sanders.senate.gov/vermont/students/ .

The post Sanders announces winners of fourteenth annual State of the Union Essay Contest for Vermont Students   first appeared on Vermont Daily Chronicle.

The post Sanders announces winners of fourteenth annual State of the Union Essay Contest for Vermont Students   appeared first on Vermont Daily Chronicle.

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