10 high school students earn awards in Elie Wiesel Ethics Essay Contest

10 high school students earn awards in Elie Wiesel Ethics Essay Contest

Elie Wiesel Foundation Prize in Ethics Essay Contest winners were announced at a May 2 award ceremony hosted by The Betsy-South Beach. Pictured (l-r) are Gabriela Ibanez, third place; Isabella Vargas, second place; Alejandra Gomez, finalist; Jonathan Plutzik, owner of The Betsy-South Beach; Hannah Selvam, finalist; Christopher Marrero, finalist; Christian Shephard, finalist; Alberto Carvalho, Miami-Dade County Public Schools superintendent; Lawrence S. Feldman, school board member; Marie L. Izqierdo, chief academic officer of the MDCPS Office of Academics and Transformation; Henry Orama, finalist; Julio Yanez, fifth place honorary mention; Augustina Nikolova, fourth place honorary mention, and Abigail Hurtado, first place.

Ten juniors and seniors representing Miami-Dade County Public high schools across the county received scholarship awards as winners and finalists in the 2016 Elie Wiesel Foundation Prize in Ethics Essay Contest.

“The essay contest provides this young generation an avenue to contemplate the meaning of what is right to do, because our ethics and values as a people truly are the heart and the soul of who we are and guide where we are headed in the future,” said Roger Cuevas, chair of the board of the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair & Exposition.

The Youth Fair contributed $7,000 in scholarship money in collaboration with MDCPS, The Betsy-South Beach, the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, and the foundation’s corporate sponsor, LRN. Superintendent of Schools Alberto Carvalho personally contributed an additional $450 for each of the last five finalists and an additional $250 for each of the runnersup.

Wiesel, who with LRN selected the 10 finalists, sent his congratulations in a video presented at The Betsy-South Beach, host of the award event. The ceremony included remarks from Carvalho, The Betsy-South Beach owner Jonathan Plutzik, and Cuevas. School Board members Lawrence S. Feldman and Wilbert “Tee” Holloway also were in attendance.

Scholarship winners:
First Place: Abigail Hurtado, junior, iPreparatory Academy, $3,000;
Second Place: Isabella Vargas, senior, International Studies Prep Academy, $2,000;
Third Place: Gabriela Ibanez, junior, School for Advanced Studies-North Campus, $1,000;

Two runners-up each received $750: Augustina Nikolova, junior, iPreparatory Academy and Julio Yanez, junior, Charter High School of the Americas.

Five finalists each received $500: Alejandra Gomez, junior, Miami Beach Senior High School; Christopher Marrero, junior, IPreparatory Academy; Henry Orama, junior, Hialeah High School; Hannah Selvam, junior, Miami Beach High School, and Christian Shephard, senior, Miami Central High School.

The essay contest is based on a national college level contest that encourages students to apply Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel’s call to action to “think higher, and feel deeper” about ethical issues facing our society. The MDCPS is distinguished as the only school district in the nation participating at the high school level.

Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel KBE, for whom the contest is named, is a Romanian-born Jewish-American professor and political activist. He is the author of more than 60 books, including Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz, Buna, and Buchenwald concentration camps. Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.

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