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2019 Essay Contest Results

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Congratulations to the Winners of this 2019's TEAM Westport Essay Contest!

First place winner, Chet Ellis, receiving his award from Harold Bailey, Jr. and First Selectman, Jim Marpe.

Read first place essay, by Chet Ellis, "The Sound of Silence"

 

 

 

Second place winner, Angela Ji receiving her award from Harold Bailey, Jr. and First Selectman, Jim Marpe.

Read second place essay, by Angela Ji, "Ripping off the Bandaid: Microaggressions and How We Address
Them"

 

 

Third place winner, Daniel Boccardo, receiving his award from Harold Bailey, Jr. and First Selectman, Jim Marpe.

Read third place essay, by Daniel Boccardo, "Cactus In A Rainforest"

 

 

 

Olivia Sarno receiving the honorable mention award from Harold Bailey, Jr. and First Selectman, Jim Marpe.

Read Honorable Mention essay, by Olivia Sarno, "Deconstructing The Voice Inside My Head"


 

 

The winners of the 6th annual TEAM Westport Teen Diversity Essay contest were announced at a ceremony on April 3, 2019 at the Saugatuck Congregational Church in Westport. The annual Essay contest is a joint project with The Westport Library and challenges local students to explore timely social topics about race, ethnicity and identity.

Regarding the Contest, First Selectman Jim Marpe stated, “In just a few short years, the TEAM Westport essay contest and its thought-provoking topics has become an integral part of community life for teens in our town. It’s a great complement to the excellent educational offerings we enjoy here. We look forward to continued focus on these important issues in partnership with TEAM Westport, the Westport Library, and local educators.”

Each year, a different topic area is posed as a challenge to potential entrants. This year’s Essay Challenge was ‘Micro-Aggressions’. Harold Bailey, TEAM Westport’s chair since its founding, says, “TEAM Westport’s focus is making Westport increasingly welcoming regarding race, religion, ethnicity and identity. By far, the largest, most pervasive hurdles we face in achieving that mission are the ongoing micro-aggressions faced by citizens, visitors and non-Westport employees in each arena. This year’s challenge provides an opportunity to delve into this problem area as well as potential solutions to address it.”

Open to high school students who either attend school in Westport or live in town and attend school elsewhere, this year’s contest boasted three winners and an honorable mention from students all attending Westport’s own Staples High school. Essays are reviewed by a panel of judges from the community and include civil rights activists, professional journalists, librarians and educators. “We were very impressed this year with the depth of experience and quality of writing among the winning essays,” said Dr. Judith Hamer, the Head Judge who chairs the Essay Contest Committee’s Evaluation sub-committee for TEAM Westport.

This year’s winners included:

  • Chet Ellis, a senior at Staples High School, won First Place and $1,000 for his essay entitled The Sounds of Silence which addressed how people of color often feel pressured not to call out microaggressions and therefore, potentially abet them.

  • Angela Ji, a senior at Staples High School, won Second Place and $750 for her essay Ripping Off the Bandaid: Microaggressions and How We Address Them which discussed the cumulative wound that the constant “finger pricks” of microaggressions can cause.

  • Daniel Boccardo, another Staples High School senior’s essay Cactus In A Rain Forest won Third Place and $500. That essay discussed ingrained social constructs of “us” and “them” that are the foundation for microaggressions against marginalized groups, particularly immigrants.

  • An Honorable Mention went to Staples High School junior, Olivia Sarno, who wrote about microaggressions against LGBTQ students in her essay, Deconstructing The Voice Inside My Head.

Overall the winning essays are brilliant, courageous and powerful. And while some might find them strictly disturbing or disheartening, Harold Bailey framed their impact as both a caution and an opportunity. The caution was to call attention to this ongoing dynamic in our schools which is common to most public schools nationwide with our demographics. The opportunity was to work together as a community to address it. TEAM Westport is committed to helping move that process forward.

 Individuals or organizations who would like to participate in sponsorship of next year’s contest are invited to contribute via the website ( www.teamwestport.org ) or by contacting TEAM Westport via info@teamwestport.org. All contributions are deductible to the extent permitted by law.

The winners of the 6th annual TEAM Westport Teen Diversity Essay contest were announced at a ceremony on April 3, 2019 at the Saugatuck Congregational Church in Westport. The annual Essay contest is a joint project with The Westport Library and challenges local students to explore timely social topics about race, ethnicity and identity.

Regarding the Contest, First Selectman Jim Marpe stated, “In just a few short years, the TEAM Westport essay contest and its thought-provoking topics has become an integral part of community life for teens in our town. It’s a great complement to the excellent educational offerings we enjoy here. We look forward to continued focus on these important issues in partnership with TEAM Westport, the Westport Library, and local educators.”

Each year, a different topic area is posed as a challenge to potential entrants. This year’s Essay Challenge was ‘Micro-Aggressions’. Harold Bailey, TEAM Westport’s chair since its founding, says, “TEAM Westport’s focus is making Westport increasingly welcoming regarding race, religion, ethnicity and identity. By far, the largest, most pervasive hurdles we face in achieving that mission are the ongoing micro-aggressions faced by citizens, visitors and non-Westport employees in each arena. This year’s challenge provides an opportunity to delve into this problem area as well as potential solutions to address it.”

Open to high school students who either attend school in Westport or live in town and attend school elsewhere, this year’s contest boasted three winners and an honorable mention from students all attending Westport’s own Staples High school. Essays are reviewed by a panel of judges from the community and include civil rights activists, professional journalists, librarians and educators. “We were very impressed this year with the depth of experience and quality of writing among the winning essays,” said Dr. Judith Hamer, the Head Judge who chairs the Essay Contest Committee’s Evaluation sub-committee for TEAM Westport.

This year’s winners included:

  • Chet Ellis, a senior at Staples High School, won First Place and $1,000 for his essay entitled The Sounds of Silence which addressed how people of color often feel pressured not to call out microaggressions and therefore, potentially abet them.

  • Angela Ji, a senior at Staples High School, won Second Place and $750 for her essay Ripping Off the Bandaid: Microaggressions and How We Address Them which discussed the cumulative wound that the constant “finger pricks” of microaggressions can cause.

  • Daniel Boccardo, another Staples High School senior’s essay Cactus In A Rain Forest won Third Place and $500. That essay discussed ingrained social constructs of “us” and “them” that are the foundation for microaggressions against marginalized groups, particularly immigrants.

  • An Honorable Mention went to Staples High School junior, Olivia Sarno, who wrote about microaggressions against LGBTQ students in her essay, Deconstructing The Voice Inside My Head.

Overall the winning essays are brilliant, courageous and powerful. And while some might find them strictly disturbing or disheartening, Harold Bailey framed their impact as both a caution and an opportunity. The caution was to call attention to this ongoing dynamic in our schools which is common to most public schools nationwide with our demographics. The opportunity was to work together as a community to address it. TEAM Westport is committed to helping move that process forward.

Individuals or organizations who would like to participate in sponsorship of next year’s contest are invited to contribute via the website ( www.teamwestport.org ) or by contacting TEAM Westport via info@teamwestport.org. All contributions are deductible to the extent permitted by law.