In a recent essay contest, we asked local high students to answer the following question:
If you had the ability to change your community or school in a positive way, what change(s) would you make?
The winning essay from an 11th grader at Watkins Glen High School gave thoughtful, researched strategies for community change ranging from a partnership between child care and adult nursing facilities to community gardening and a safe-space for victims of abuse that could also house the homeless or provide a place for people to shower if hot water is a luxury.
The second place winner, a Canisteo-Greenwood 10th grader, described the need for a monthly community newsletter and up-to-date website in the age of social media. In order to build community ties, people need to know about fundraisers, sporting events, meetings, and elections.
Runners-up wrote about the need for more assemblies at Hornell High School to start challenging-but-necessary conversations, building solar roadways, supporting locally-owned businesses, creating youth centers in rural areas, extending smoke-free areas at entrances of public buildings, and forming support groups within schools to help students connect with peers facing similar struggles.
Essay after essay, students detailed solutions to some of society’s most persistent problems.
As the winner concluded:
“Changes may not affect the world, but it will affect our little world around us. Seemingly perfect communities can always become more green, or more supportive of one another. But, if we all work together for the greater good, we can change something to give to the future.”