2017 Louisiana High School Essay Contest winners announced

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Blake Ziegler of Holy Cross School in New Orleans has been named first place winner of the 2017 Northwestern State University Louisiana High School Essay Contest. Ziegler won the honor for his essay “Chevra Thilim.” Sarah Hendrickson of Mount Carmel Academy in New Orleans won second place with her essay “Côte des Allemands,” and Anna Goodwin of Alexandria Senior High School in Alexandria won third place for her entry “The Miracle at Cabrini Hospital.” Two students received Honorable Mention: Ashley Cougat of Mount Carmel Academy for her essay “Refuge” and Benjamin Harris Davidson of St. Paul’s School in Covington for his essay “All Hail King Rex.”

Writing on the 2017 contest theme “Louisiana Landscapes,” entrants each discussed a place in Louisiana that has special meaning for them.

“We received more entries this year than ever before, making the process of choosing winners from among so many excellent essays an extremely difficult process for all of the judges,” said Dr. Shane Rasmussen, director of the Louisiana Folklife Center and co-chair of the Contest. “The essays convey the deep sense of gratitude these student writers feel for being able to live in a state that has not only such great physical beauty but also such a depth of human warmth. Many of the places the students wrote about so movingly in their essays were made meaningful to them because of the ways that other people such as family, peers, teachers, clergy, coaches and others have welcomed, nurtured and inspired them. Louisiana places are beloved because the people of Louisiana are so wonderful!”

Contest winners have been invited to attend the Ninth Annual Louisiana Studies Conference Saturday, Sept. 23 on the Northwestern State campus to read their essays to the conference participants. The essays will be included in the Louisiana Folklife Journal, which is published by the Louisiana Folklife Center. This year’s conference theme is “Louisiana Landscapes.” Attendance at the conference is free and open to the public.

The first, second, and third prize winners will each receive a $200 per semester NSU scholarship with a value up to $1,600 for 4 years. All of the contest winners will receive a cash prize in honor of their accomplishment. The essay contest is open to all Louisiana students in grades 9 – 12 regardless of type of school institution, including students in all types of private educational environments, as well as home schooled students.

This year’s Essay Contest judges were Dr. Lisa Abney, faculty facilitator for academic research and community college outreach and professor of English at Northwestern State University; Jason Church, materials conservator with the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training; Lisa Davis, director of the Writing Project at Northwestern State University, and Rasmussen.

The contest was sponsored by the Louisiana Folklife Center, the NSU Office of Recruiting, the NSU Writing Project, and the College of Arts and Sciences. A theme for next year’s contest will be announced in early spring.

For more information contact Rasmussen, NSU Box 3663, Natchitoches, LA 71497, rasmussens@nsula.edu, or call the Louisiana Folklife Center at (318) 357-4332.