Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

PTSA Senior Essay Contest offers winners more than money

Contest inspires invaluable student self-reflection

Dollar, dollar bills may be the only thing on seniors’ minds if they consider participating in the PTSA Senior Essay Contest. Yet, the contest offers much more than just monetary benefits. Its thought-provoking prompt and commitment to fair judging create a unique scholarship opportunity that should not be overlooked.

The PTSA Senior Essay Contest gives students a platform to share their opinions, promoting personal development and self-expression. (Illustration by Alicia Liste)

This year’s essay prompt, according to the Homestead PTSA page, explores the importance of enduring human qualities amidst the ever-changing technological landscape: “As technology continues to evolve, which human values do you believe remain timeless and relevant? What are you doing to live by those values?” 

These intriguing questions give students a much-needed break from the usual superficiality seen in scholarship applications and are especially relevant in today’s world. 

Although I am not yet a senior, I appreciate how the contest pushes students to dive deeper than shallow writing about their “strongest skill” or “most impactful project.” Relevant prompts that relate to students’ lives and experiences, like this year’s, are common in the yearly PTSA Senior Essay Contest, according to the PTSA vice president of student programs Manuela Silveira, underscoring the refreshing nature of the contest.

The core aspect of this year’s prompt, technology and values, addresses an integral aspect of students’ lives. As a teenager, I have witnessed first-hand the immense impact technology has on the youth of today: From ChatGPT to Instagram, technology and social media affect everything from how teenagers dress to how they study for their next exam. 

This unfortunately allows young people to be in a constant state of comparison with their peers, pressured to live lives just as “cool” as the ones they see on their Instagram feed, for example. By welcoming students’ opinions on such a complex topic, the prompt gives students a valuable outlet to look further into this influencing force and critically examine its impact on their own lives. 

Despite not being able to submit an entry, I felt compelled to reflect on the same questions the contest posed. By digging deeper into how I live by those enduring human values, I realized the importance of staying true to oneself and creating honest work, even when using AI chatbots, for example, may get the job done faster.

What also sets this contest apart is its emphasis on students’ beliefs and thoughts, beyond mere intellectual achievement. As I believe that becoming a successful professional goes further than just facts or figures, this approach was appreciated. By solely taking into consideration the submitter’s written response rather than their grades or extracurriculars, students who may have struggled academically, and thus been overlooked by other scholarship programs, now have an opportunity to show their potential. 

Moreover, it is comforting to know that apart from being a vehicle for deeper thought, the PTSA Senior Essay Contest ensures impartial judging of entries, with the PTSA Board serving as judges. The 11 members of the board come from a variety of different backgrounds and careers and are all parents of current HHS students, according to Silveira. I find it reassuring that there is an array of different opinions being taken into consideration before any decision is made. 

Seniors considering participating in the PTSA Senior Essay Contest should promptly do so. With its relevant prompt encouraging valuable introspection, and a just judging of entries by a diverse board, in addition to the cash prize, the essay contest presents an indispensable opportunity that should not be passed up.

Entries are to be submitted by March 31 using the following link:

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About the Contributor
Alicia Liste
Alicia Liste, Reporter
Alicia is a sophomore and a first-year staffer on The Epitaph. She is looking forward to learning from this year’s challenges and new experiences. In her free time, Alicia enjoys thrifting, taking public transit and eating good food.

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