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We’ve been getting e-mails from across the county wondering about the results of the essay contest we just ran. We were overwhelmed by the participation and moved that we got so many students to think about local issues that affect their lives and make such wonderful arguments about them.

We received more than 300 essays, each addressing one of three classic San Diego debates: should the seals be allowed to stay at the Children’s Pool in La Jolla; should taxpayers finance a new stadium for the Chargers; or should teachers’ pay be merit-based.  Participating students came from all over the county, representing 59 schools from Oceanside to southeast San Diego to Escondido to Ramona to El Cajon and communities in between.

The contest was open to 11th and 12th graders in San Diego County. Each student could submit only one essay, and was limited to 1,000 words. The essays were fairly evenly split among the three topics. The contest proved to be very competitive, with many thoughtful and well-written essays. Narrowing the finalists to be published and selecting a winner was a tough job for our team of six journalist judges.

The winner of the $2,500 scholarship prize is Anna Ponting, a 12th grader at Patrick Henry High School. Scott Lewis will present her award on NBC 7/39’s afternoon news today at 4 p.m.  Finalist essays will be published each day this week, and Anna’s essay will be published on Friday, Feb. 20. You can read the first three here, here and here.

This is the first time has sponsored an essay contest, which was designed to engage students in local news and analysis. We thank all the students who participated in the contest.

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