Commissioners Celebrate Winners of Dauphin County’s 2021 Cultural Celebration Student Essay Contest

Essay Group CROP

The Dauphin County Commissioners honored talented young writers who won awards in the county’s 2021 Cultural Celebration Student Essay Contest.

Nine students were selected as first, second, and third place winners within three age group categories for their essays about COVID-19’s impact on diversity and community relations.

Several of the winners, their parents, and local educators packed the meeting room for the awards ceremony at the commissioners’ public meeting on Aug. 18.

“Our diversity is our greatest strength,” County Commissioner George P. Hartwick III told the group.

Commissioners Mike Pries, Chad Saylor, and Hartwick each honored winners from the respective age groups.

“Words are powerful, and they can take you far,” Commissioner Chair Pries told the winners.

Sophie Calo, a 9-year-old from South Hanover Elementary, was the youngest winner, taking first place in her age group for her essay on the power of kindness.

MaKayla Kerstetter (Halifax Elementary School) won second place for her essay on how to promote kindness. Grace Johnson (West Hanover Elementary) took third place.

For ages 12-14: Benjamin Ferster (Central Dauphin MS) won first place; Alison Hatfield (Central Dauphin HS) won second, and Lindsey Hoffman (Central Dauphin HS) took third.

“These essays were very thoughtful, which is quite impressive considering they were written during some very difficult times,” Commissioner Saylor said.

Ava Valentin (Central Dauphin HS), who placed third in the 15-18 age group, said she wrote her essay in her bedroom while in quarantine.

“Shared bad experiences make you bond, so I wanted to get that across,” Ava said of her essay.

Noel Do and Sophia Ross, both from Central Dauphin HS, won first and second place, respectively.

The winners received certificates of achievement and cash prizes.

A special thanks to the volunteer judges of the annual contest: Sonya Morgan, Dr. Cathy Coleman, and Dominique Coleman.

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