Oak Knoll Students Snag Summit Essay Contest Title

Summit Essay Contest winners

Summit Essay Contest Winners, from left: Rorygrace Thompson ’27, Katherine “Katie” Castano ’27 and Anum “Ana” Daneshyar Rizvi ’26.

Three Oak Knoll Lower School students earned accolades during the second annual Summit Elks Lodge No. 1246 Americanism Essay and Art Contest based on their essay topics of “What Freedom of Speech Means To Me.”

The contest is geared toward students in grades 5-8 to promote patriotism among young people.

Rorygrace Thompson ’27, of Maplewood, won first place; Katherine “Katie” Castano ’27, of Essex Falls, took second place; and Anum “Ana” Daneshyar Rizvi ’26, of Livingston, won first place.

The winning entries will be sent to the Elks’ East Central District for consideration to go before the state chairman.

“In this day and age, it is more critical than ever that students recognize the gift of free speech and the importance of civil discourse in our society,” said Leslie J. Smith, Grade 6 Intermediate Social Studies Teacher at Oak Knoll and adviser to the contest.

Prizes are awarded at the state level, and one essay will be forwarded to the Grand Lodge in Chicago for the nationwide competition. First place national winners in each division will receive a bronze plaque. Winners in each division on the state level will win a Kindle Fire HD, for first place; a 30-inch flat screen TV, for second place; and a $100 gift certificate, for third place.

This is not the first time an Oak Knoll student has topped the competition in the essay portion of the contest. In 2017, then-fifth grader Lucy Duttenhofer ’24 earned second place for her essay on the subject of the importance of voting.

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