Six students from Eisenhower Senior High School earned honors in the contest sponsored by the Boniuk Center at Rice University.
The Boniuk Center received hundreds of essays from Houston area schools. The contest’s selection committee selected six for special commendation and 15 for honorable mention. All 21 students were honored March 22 at a ceremony held at the Farnsworth Pavilion of the Rice University Memorial Center.
In the 11th-12th Grade Division, Som-Mai Nguyen tied for second place with her essay entitled “Individual Contributions.” Schoolmate Nastassia Palanetskaya earned honorable mention with her essay “The Last Samurai.”
In the 9th-10th Grade Division, students Claudia Espinoza and Shabir Muhammad tied for third place with their essays entitled respectively “A World of Different Stories” and “The Geometry of Religions.” Meanwhile Jeffrey González and Breyana Hernández earned honorable mention with their essays entitled respectively “Together” and “Harmful Innocence.”
Winners of the contest received cash prizes: $500 for first place, $300 for runners-up, and $200 for third place.
The students’ advisor, Mari Clayton Glamser, is very proud of the students and their work.
“The Boniuk Center has provided amazing experiences for our students,” said Clayton Glamser. “The power of this competition is that it allows students to identify a need and then both visualize and articulate ways to ameliorate it. Much of the writing the students do in class involves analysis of other people’s ideas. This competition rewards students for coming up with creative ways to address problems they encounter in everyday life.”
Clayton Glamser, who also serves as AP (advanced placement) world history, IB (International Baccalaureate) history of the Americas, U.S. government and economics teacher at Eisenhower Senior High School, added that this year three of her students —Nguyen, Briana Mayes and Christina Franklin — also participated in the Boniuk Center Sacred Sites Quest (SSQ) in which students engaged in activities at St. Paul’s Methodist Church, Temple Emmanu-El, the Islamic Center, Dawn Mountain Tibetan Buddhist Temple, and Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu Temple. As a culminating activity, they painted an interfaith mural one of walls of the Museum of Cultural Arts in downtown Houston. She stated that the students in both the essay contest and the SSQ activities are enrolled in her AP world history class (the 10th graders) and in the Eisenhower IB program (11th and 12th graders).
Founded in 2004 with a $5 million endowed gift from Milton and Laurie Boniuk, the Center is dedicated to nurturing tolerance among all people, especially youth. Its mission is to understand the conditions that make peaceful coexistence possible and to promote those conditions locally, nationally and throughout the world.
The annual essay contest is open to all students enrolled in ninth through 12th grade in a Houston area high school as well as home-schooled students. Essays must be original works composed independently by the author alone. The eight winners receive cash awards and share brief excerpts from their essays at the awards ceremony.
To lean more about the Embracing Tolerance contest or the Boniuk Center, visit www.boniuk.rice.edu.
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