Congratulations to the winners of our first Think for Yourself Essay Contest! We received over 3,000 essays and there were so many excellent entries, it was truly hard to choose. Thank you and good luck to all who entered!
FIRST PRIZE, $2500: Kasey Roberts, age 17
RUNNER UPS, $1000 Each: Ruby Green, age 18 and Shaina Chen, age 17
HONORABLE MENTION, $500:Name: Eva Kozlowski, age 15
About the contest:
Teaching young people to avoid all words, conversations and ideas they don't agree with is not doing anyone any favors. When we treat young people as remarkably fragile we actually MAKE that happen. So, to help a rising generation of high school students consider the value of free speech in all its glorious discomfort, Let Grow sponsored a "Think For Yourself" essay contest.
Essay prompts included:
1 Christopher Hitchens once asked: "To whom would you delegate the task of deciding for you what you could read? Do you know anyone...to whom you would give this job?" Do you? Why or why not?
2 Write about a time you or someone you knew didn't speak up, or almost didn't, for fear your idea might be unpopular. What did you learn from this and would you do the same thing again?
3 Please write a thank you note to the jerk you listened to... and learned something from (though perhaps that didn't happen right away).
Another question asked was whether the "Sticks and stone may break my bones..." chant should be discarded or revived on playgrounds today.
Too often today, young people report they feel like they are "walking on eggshells" for fear of offending their fellow students, even accidentally. Let Grow believes that the more that students get used to talking, debating, and opening their minds, the more they grow intellectually and personally.
It's also more fun!
Winning essays will be posted here soon. First we are waiting to hear if they will be published in a newspaper. Stay tuned!