Announcing 2003 High School Essay Winners (August 2003)

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has named its major winners in the 2003 high school essay competition. Contestants this year were asked to submit short essays about why “under God” does not belong in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Aubrey Sinn, a new graduate of Conlara School, Ann Arbor, Mich., received the Blanche Fearn Memorial Award, with a $1,000.00 prize. Ms. Sinn, who will be attending the Tisch School of the Arts in New York City this fall, placed first for her essay, “For All the People.”

Second place of $500.00 was awarded to Kurti Monnier, for his essay “‘Under God’ Should Go Under.” He graduated from Brookline High School, Mass., and is enrolled at Boston University.

Two students tied for third place, receiving $250.00 each: Russell Hargraves, for “A Notion Forgotten by Time,” and Gilene Young, for “The Incongruity of the Pledge of Allegiance.” Russell graduated from Hamshire-Fannett High School, Texas, and will be entering the University of Texas at San Antonio. Gilene, a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Va., will be attending Yale University.

Additionally, the Foundation has awarded Honorable Mention prizes of $100.00 each to 12 high school grads who will be entering college this fall. Excerpts of their essays will appear in Freethought Today.

Winning Honorable Mentions are:

Hagop E. Bouboushian, Corsicana, Texas; Michaela Bronstein, Seattle, Wash.; Carmen Byrd, Charlotte, N.C.; Emily Gundlach, Davenport, N.Y.; Adam Katrick, Zanesville, Ohio; Luiza M. Goncalves, San Jose, Calif.; Sanjay Gopinath, Oak Hill, Va.; David Leuszler, Stone Mountain, Ga.; Jason Lindgren, Oak Park, Calif.; Sam Marcellus, Port Washington, N.Y.; Kathryn Morrison, Marlton, N.J., and Joshua Parry, Roanoke, Texas.

The annual high school first-place award is named for the late Blanche Fearn, who was a Foundation officer and benefactor, who ardently believed in lifelong learning, although she did not have the opportunity to attend college. A firm proponent of the separation of church and state, she had protested prayers at her public school in New York City as a teenager.

Freedom From Religion Foundation