Gerald R. Ford High School Essay Challenge, 2016

Madison Goen

Place: Madison Goen
Kenowa Hills High School / 12th Grade

She trembled in the February breeze, yellow coat bundled close to her small chin. Recess, she decided, was best suited for Spring. She had a corner, tucked away between the school and the rolling, snow covered playgrounds. If she ducked into in far enough, she felt as if no one could see her. That was how she and her rotating circle of bent-paged books liked it. Today shouts crescendoed into a cascade of double, triple dog dog dares just outside her nook. Dares to climb the swing set, dares to throw a snowball at the Young-5. She remembered a lesson her mother had taught her: integrity. “Doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do,” even when no grown-up was watching. She spinned out of the corner, leaving Harry Potter on the cold stones. She came face to face with a group of boys acting against the rules, no supervisor around. That was when Leadership realized she was around, and wasn’t she a supervisor, too? She pointed her short, pencil-thin finger, demanding that they stop. And they did. Like any concept, and like any person, no one could define her. As with all concepts, she had to define herself through actions...

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Ben Rozema

Second Place: Benjamin Rozema

Calvin Christian High School / 11th Grade

America’s Leading Lady: An Insight into Betty Ford’s Life as an Inspiring Leader

Unapologetically outspoken and refreshingly honest, Betty Ford prevails as one of the most extraordinary and influential first ladies in U.S. history. Married to the honorable President Ford, Mrs. Ford’s entry into the public sphere could not have emerged at a better time. The political scandals, Vietnam War, and embittered remnants of the civil rights movement forged a yearning in the American people for an honest, authentic figure to rectify the societal debacle, and Mrs. Ford suffused that void. Therefore, Betty Ford is revered for being an exemplary leader as she exhibited audacity, candor, and resourcefulness...

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Lois biggs

Third Place: Lois Biggs
Forest Hills Eastern High School / 12th Grade

The Human Rights Council

47 Human Rights Council delegates wait with bated breath, our glances darting around the eggshell yellow conference room. We’ve been through the rules, raised our placards for attendance, considered each other’s opening statements. In seconds, a flurry of note­passing, alliance­forming, and resolution­writing will begin...

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Honorable Mention

Emily VandenBerg
Plymouth Christian High School / 12th Grade
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Bethany Morse
Calvin Christian High School / 11th Grade
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Hannah Baird
Forest Hills Eastern High School / 12th Grade
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Sarah Baxter
Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School / 10th Grade
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Elliott Hoogerland
Forest Hills Eastern High School / 12th Grade
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Deena Hoffmann
Plymouth Christian High School / 11th Grade
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Essay Challenge Rules and Guidelines

The President Gerald R. Ford Essay Challenge is open to all 9th through 12th grade students in Michigan. To enter, write a 500 – 750 word essay on this year’s theme, The Meaning of Leadership Today. Limit one entry per student, per contest. All essays must be submitted on white, 8 1/2” x 11” paper with one-inch margins on each side. Essays must be single-sided and double-spaced, using black or dark blue ink. Judges will determine legibility of fonts and hand written entries. A title page is required for each entry. It must include student name, address, phone, e-mail, grade, school, teacher, school address and school phone. The sponsors reserve the right to interpret the contest rules and to make decisions concerning the awards in situations not covered by these rules. Participation in the contest constitutes entrant’s full and unconditional agreement to and acceptance of all official rules and guidelines, including eligibility requirements.

Drop off, or mail, completed entry to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Attn: Barbara McGregor, 303 Pearl St., NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504-5353. All entries must be hand delivered or postmarked no later than March 14, 2016. No late entries will be accepted. Essays will be reviewed by judges comprised of civic, education, and/or business leaders.
Finalists will be notified no later than April 8, 2016. Participating sponsors are not responsible for lost, late, misdirected, illegible, or incomplete essays, or essays that do not follow all rules and guidelines.
Essays will not be returned.

Winners will be selected based on adherence to the theme, quality of narrative, originality of the essay, as well as on proper use of grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Plagiarism will result in disqualification. Judges will select the top three entries. Judges also reserve the right to select up to six honorable mention recipients. Decisions of the judges are final.

Employees of the sponsors, and members of their households, are not eligible. By participating, each contestant agrees to comply with these rules and further agrees to accept the decision of the judges as final and binding. Parents or guardians of the finalists will be required to sign and submit a publicity consent form as a condition of a student’s participation in this contest.

The first place winner will receive $1,000.00, second place $750.00, and third place $500.00. Honorable mention recipients will each receive $250.00.