Each year the Gerald R. Ford Museum, in partnership with the Grand Rapids Press, offers a high school essay challenge around a specific topic such as patriotism or integrity. This year’s topic, The Meaning of Leadership Today, drew nearly 400 submissions from West Michigan high schoolers, each vying for one of three prize-winning spots.
Once essays were submitted, judges whittled the pile down to eighteen finalists from across the area. You can imagine our thrill when we received word that two of the eighteen finalists were Allendale High School students!
Today we applaud these two finalists: Samantha Dickson and Melissa DeWitt. Samantha’s touching essay focused on the sacrifices and leadership demonstrated by her stepdad. She shares that he is a hero to her because he entered her life when she was very young and was present. No grand gestures, no wild expressions of love, just time; just being there.
Melissa used the essay contest to herald the leadership demonstrated by her great-grandmother. She shared stories of how this special woman responded to unkind parents and a grim family situation. Melissa counts her great-grandmother as a hero because she rose above difficult circumstances and stood by her convictions in the face of trials.
Last night, February 20, Melissa and Samantha were invited to attend a special awards banquet at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum where Gloria Lara, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore, gave the keynote address. It was at the banquet that Samantha Dickson learned that her essay won 2nd prize…making her the lucky recipient of $1,500!!
These young ladies have emerged as leaders in this esteemed competition and deserve our applause! Congratulations to them both!