Allendale Boasts TWO Award Finalists!

Finalists Samantha Dickson & Melissa DeWitt

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!

Categories: APS Celebrations, Student Award Winners, Students in the Spotlight! | Tags: , , , , , | 16 Comments

Post navigation

16 thoughts on “Allendale Boasts TWO Award Finalists!

  1. Dan Remenap

    Way to go girls! You make us all very proud!

  2. Mrs. Gottschalk

    Congrats, girls! Way to help put AHS on the map!

  3. Sabrina Love

    good job misssay

  4. Great job, girls! I would love to read the essays. Where can we find them?

  5. Pam DeJong

    Great job girls! You should be very proud. Thank you for your contributions to the school and community.

  6. Gwen VanTimmeren

    Amazing work, girls! You should be so proud of your accomplishment. This confirms that both home and school have made successful contributions to your “education.”

  7. I can’t wait to read your articles! Anna was in this last year and it was fun being there and hearing some of the articles read out loud. Way to go girls!

  8. Bonnie Visser

    Great Job Missy! I will enjoy readying your essay when it is on the website.

    Bonnie (Grandma Visser)

    • Melissa

      Awww! Thanks, Grandma Visser! I didn’t win any money, but I will try again next year! 🙂

      -Missy! 🙂

  9. Sheryl Pineiro

    Congratulations to both Melissa and Samantha. That is amazing that you both made it to the top 18, out of hundreds of submissions. I would love to see those essays on this blog.

    • Melissa


      Thanks! You will be able to read the essays on the Gerald R Ford Website by the end of the week!

    • Sheryl, the GR Ford Foundation has not posted the essays yet, but we’ll be sure to add a link here as soon as they’re available! Thanks for the comment.

Please help us keep this blog family-friendly by using appropriate language in your comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: