Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.

We received more than 200 essays from students representing more than 40 high schools throughout San Diego County. Students from all across the county addressed one of three local debates: the county’s role in providing social services; whether the city of San Diego should invest in recycling sewage for drinking water; and whether the San Diego Unified School District’s decision not to pursue federal “Race to the Top” funding was right. More than half of the students chose to explore the recycled sewage topic. The remaining essays were evenly split on the other two topics.

The contest was open to all 11th and 12th graders in San Diego County. Each student could submit only one essay, and was limited to 1,000 words. 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 journalist judges.

The winner of the $2,500 scholarship prize is Amy Cao, an 11th grader at La Jolla High School. Congrats, Amy!

Finalist essays will be published each day this week, and Amy Cao’s essay will be published on Friday. You can read the first two essays, one by Taylor Winchell of Patrick Henry High School here and one by Alexandra Abbott of La Jolla High School here.

This is the second year of the popular essay contest, which was designed to engage students in local news and analysis. We thank all the students who participated in the contest.

Special thanks again to Bob, Karen, and Heather Bowden for sponsoring this year’s contest and to Sylvan Learning of San Diego for providing a prize to the top 11th grade essay.


Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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