Just in time for President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders announced the winner and finalists in his annual State of the Union essay contest for Vermont high school students – and the results hit home.
A panel of four Vermont teachers judged the essays and selected Caroline Braun, a junior at Champlain Valley Union High School (CVU), as the winner. “There is no simple cure for the abundant issues plaguing our nation,” Braun wrote. “Not only are we recovering from a recession, but we also are confronting challenges related to climate change, health care, and education. As a world leader and role model for democracy and peace, we need initiatives that not only connect people and communities, but also ones that will act as catalysts for change.”
Altogether, more than 300 high school students from dozens of high schools throughout Vermont submitted essays on what they consider the major issues facing the U.S. and how they view the state of the union. CVU finalists include Jeannine Bissonette, Allie Bull, Emma Davitt, Taryn Druge, and Sonia Lowen.
“I am pleased that we had more students participating this year than last,” Sanders said. “I hope, in the years to come, the number of students and schools that participate continue to grow. We need our young people to be engaged, to help find solutions for the problems that confront us, and to think about the future of our country. This is what democracy is all about.”
Sanders will enter the essays of the winner and the finalists into the Congressional Record. The finalists will also have the opportunity to participate in a roundtable discussion with Sanders to discuss the issues they wrote about in their essays. The roundtable has been scheduled for March 9 at South Burlington High School.
The U.S. Constitution calls for the president to “give to the Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” For the last three years, as the president prepares his State of the Union speech, Sanders’ essay contest has asked Vermont’s high school students to write an essay of 250 to 500 words about their view of the “state of the union.”
In the three years Sanders has held the contest, more than 850 students from schools throughout Vermont have written essays addressing such important issues as the declining middle class, climate change, gun control, health care reform and the rising cost of a college education.
Read the winning essays at www.sanders.senate.gov/stateoftheunion.