$4,500 Awarded to High School Student Essayists

Top-placing entries in the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s 2009 high school student essay scholarship competition are printed in this issue.

The topic was “Why Darwin Is Important to America.” Students were also asked to suggest ways to combat creationism.

The Blanche Fearn Memorial Award of $2,000 and first place go to Sarah Darville, who plans to attend Colum?bia University.

Fearn was a Found?ation activist and benefactor who, although a lifelong learner, never had the means to attend college. She protested prayers as a high school student in New York City in the 1920s.

Second place of $1,000 goes to Chanelle Ria Bessette, who plans to attend the University of Nevada-Reno.

Puya Gerami took third place, earning $500, and will attend Columbia University.

Receiving honorable mentions of $200 were Amélie Kurmes, Northern Arizona University; Dylan Skerbitz, University of Minnesota; Emily Rigole, Georgia Institute of Technology; Lindsey Rey, University of Texas-Austin; and Jocelyn Tanis, University of California-Berkeley.

The Foundation gives a big thumbs-up and sincere thanks to all the students who submitted essays. The future of freethought is in good hands.

Thanks to California Foundation member John Moe, a retired high school teacher, who contributed money this year as well as last year to raise the scholarship award for honorable mention high school essayists from $100 to $200.

Additionally, Florida Foundation members Dean and Dorea Schramm are adding “bonus” money for all winners of the Foundation’s two essay competitions. The Schramms have donated an extra $100 each for the three top-placing essays, plus $50 each for Honorable Mentions.

Winners in the college portion of the scholarship competition will be announced in September. The topics are “Why I Reject Religion,” Why I Am an Atheist/Agnostic/Unbeliever” or “Growing Up a Freethinker.” The submission deadline was July 1.

Freedom From Religion Foundation