CCUSD students earn top honors in AEF writing contest

From left is Cave Creek Unified School District students Sophia Barneda, Brooklyn Presta, Emma Arias, Natasha Jarik, and Rena Jakway. (submitted photos)

Five Cave Creek Unified School District students have won top honors in the 2018 Polly Rosenbaum Creative Writing Contest on the topic of “What is the importance of civility in civic discourse.”

Sonoran Trails Middle School eighth grade student Sophia Barneda won first place in the Arizona Educational Foundation’s contest with her original poem entitled “Respect.”

Cactus Shadows High School freshmen Brooklyn Presta and Emma Arias both placed in the contest as well, taking second and third place, respectively; and CSHS juniors Rena Jakway and Natasha Jarik placed in their categories as well.

“We’re so proud of Sophia for giving voice to an important topic in today’s tense political climate,” STMS English teacher Shelley Kniffen said in a prepared statement.

All students will be recognized Wednesday, Feb. 14, at a special event at the Arizona State Capitol.

“The topic this year, ‘what is the importance of civility in civil discourse,’ was so poignant, and it challenged the students to think about civic discourse in their own lives and in the broader society,” CSHS English teacher, and Arizona’s 2016 Teacher of the Year, Christine Marsh said in a prepared statement.

“Many of the essays from Cactus Shadows students were powerful, but four winning essays were especially insightful and creative. Most adults could learn something from our bright young students.”

First place winners will receive a $50 gift certificate and will have the opportunity to read their winning submission out loud at the event. Second place winners will receive a $25 gift certificate; and third place winners will receive a $15 gift certificate.

The Polly Rosenbaum Writing Contest is named for Polly Rosenbaum, a former House Representative in the Arizona State Legislature and teacher, who passed away in 2003 at the age of 104. This writing contest is a long-standing tradition honoring Ms. Rosenbaum, who believed Arizona’s young people are the state’s greatest resource, the press release stated.

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