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Writers honored by Optimists

Katie Gipe (click for larger version)
April 03, 2013 - Clarkston High School students Katie Gipe, Anna Gray, and Mason VanGieson were honored with medals, plaques, and accolades in this year's Clarkston Area Optimist Club essay contest, March 27.

"It's important to recognize youth, and this is a great platform to do that," said Optimist Penny Hileman, contest chair.

High school students submitted 42 essays in the contest, with the theme "How can I help my friends realize their value?"

Gipe, earning the top spot, drew inspiration from Martin Luther King Day, which is when she was writing it.

"MLK would not have achieved equality for all, if his friends had not been by his side," she said, reading her essay to the assembled club. "He never underestimated the power his friends could have and the potential they possess to make a change. We should strive to follow in his footsteps, and by bettering our friendships we can in turn also better this world."

Gray's second-place essay turned to a quote attributed to Ben Franklin.

"'Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn,'" she said. "This quote by Benjamin Franklin connects me to the value of being involved and growing with friends when people are involved as a part of a family, a team, a friendship they learn. They learn who they are and who they can be; they learn to share confidence, to share optimism, to share value."

For VanGieson, third-place winner, value stems from respect.

"Respect, in all its forms, truly is the basis of encouraging self worth," she said. "I am elated to say that I see my group of friends, myself included, becoming more confident every day. I truly believe we have this confidence because of each other. I certainly hope that by respecting my friends and valuing them so highly, I can help them see themselves for what they truly are - beautiful."

The winning essay will be sent to the district level to compete for scholarships and a spots at the national level.

Phil Custodio

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