Coast Day essay contest winners explore theme of storm readiness
A compelling essay by a student who witnessed hurricanes in Jamaica and Delaware won first place in the 2013 Coast Day Fifth-Grade Essay Contest.
The top-placing essay by Xavier Hines, a student in Marilyn Vallejo’s class at St. Ann School in Wilmington, described his firsthand knowledge of the devastation caused by storms.
“After the hurricanes in Jamaica, we saw tall palms on the ground, trees without leaves, roads flooded, and many houses without roofs,” Hines wrote in his winning essay. “Many beaches were eroded and sand was on the roads and in people’s houses.”
Hines and his fellow winners were recognized at a special ceremony during Coast Day, held Oct. 6 at the University of Delaware’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes. Sponsored by the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment and the Delaware Sea Grant College Program, Coast Day highlights the importance of the state’s coastal resources.
The contest encouraged students to reflect on this year’s theme, Building Resilient Coastal Communities. Students described what they learned in the months since Hurricane Sandy and how they can best prepare for future coastal hazards such as hurricanes, flooding and sea level rise.
“With so much focus on standards and test scores, it’s great to be able to recognize students’ ability to take an environment-related writing prompt and respond to it with emotion, creativity and scientific accuracy,” said Chris Petrone, education specialist with Delaware Sea Grant. “Seeing the faces of the winners, their families and their teachers as they’re called up to receive their prizes is very rewarding.”
Second place was awarded to Hines’ classmate, Olivia Sheetz, and third place went to Ryan Burke in Brandi Townsend’s class at Richard A. Shields Elementary in Lewes. Honorable mentions were presented to Ryleigh Coffey in Sandra Schlapfer’s class at John R. Downes Elementary School in Newark, Morgan Gracey in Marilyn Vallejo’s class at St. Ann School, and Fiona Pando in Alayne Shockely’s class at Worcester Preparatory School.
“What struck us as we were reading these, and what strikes us each year, is how much young people absorb from their experiences with the coast,” CEOE Dean Nancy Targett said during the awards ceremony.
Targett was joined in congratulating the students by UD Provost Domenico Grasso, Lewes Mayor Jim Ford, School of Marine Science and Policy Director Mark Moline, Patrick McCullar of the Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation and David Small of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
To read all six winning essays, go to www.decoastday.org/2013_5thGradeessay.html.