High school winning essayists announced

Winners in FFRF’s annual essay competition for college-bound high school seniors have been selected for 2010. The Foundation is granting $5,000 in cash scholarships to nine students.

The Foundation has endowed a high school contest for more than 30 years and now offers three competitions. The other contests aid currently enrolled college students and graduate/older students. Those winners will be announced in future issues.

High school seniors were asked this year to write either about “The harm of religion” or “The harm of religion to women.”
Winners are:

• Benjamin Todd, 18, San Antonio, received the Herbert “Harry” Bushong $2,000 Scholarship for his first-place essay, “Into the minds of babes.” Benjamin was home-schooled through high school and will attend the University of Richmond in Virginia to study business administration with a concentration on finance. His interests include mathematics and historical miniature war gaming. His essay is reprinted in full on page 6.
• Malachi Mojica, Woodland Hills, Calif., will attend California State University-Northridge with an intended English major. Malachi hopes to be a novelist, plays bass guitar and percussion (the African djembe specifically), and became an atheist at an early age. He received $1,000 for his essay, “The obstruction that is religion,” reprinted on page 6.
• Shane Hall, 17, Saint Johns, Fla., will study English at the University of South Florida in Tampa, and has already completed a novel. He was awarded $500 for his essay,  “K-12 and salvation,” reprinted on page 7.
Additionally, FFRF judges awarded six discretionary “honorable mention” essays. What used to be a $100 prize has been increased to $250, thanks to $100 per essay contributed by John Moe, a Foundation member from California, and $50 contributed by Foundation members Dean and Dorea Schramm of Florida.
Honorable mention winners are:
• Ariana Allison, 17, Lakewood, Calif., will attend California College of the Arts in San Francisco.
• Itzel Camacho, 17, Downey, Calif, will attend Cal State-Long Beach and study chemical engineering.
• Khyati Dalal, who was born in India and graduated from Cupertino High School in California, will attend San Diego State University.
• Margaret Gibbon graduated from Middleton High School South in New Jersey and will attend Barnard College.
• Ankit Kaushik, 17, born in Hyderabad, India, will attend Georgia Institute of Technology.
• Jonathan von Ofenheim, 18, Williamsburg, Va., will attend Quest University, a secular liberal arts and sciences college in British Columbia.

Next month: Look for winning essays in FFRF’s new essay competition for graduate students/students over 25 years.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation extends warmest thanks to Harry Bushong, a Lifetime Member in his 90s, for generously endowing the current high school essay competition, and to John Moe and the Schramms for their kind additional support for “honorable mentions.” The Schramms also offer all essay winners a complimentary selection of freethought books and subscriptions.

Freedom From Religion Foundation