This year, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation annual essay challenge invited high school students to submit an essay focused on civility. Some ideas were: What does civility mean to you? How might we create a sense of civility in both our social circles and our government? Have you had an experience where, through civility, people were able to find common ground? For her winning essay, worth a $1,000 award, Forest Hills Northern High School senior, Caroline Kuntzman began her essay with a quote from “To Kill a Mockingbird.” “You never really know a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” She goes on to write in her essay, “We live in a society with more need for civility than ever before. With Capitol Hill seeming to become more polarized by the day, differences in culture, ideology, and religion contributing to conflicts all across the globe, and the press spreading harsh words like wildfire, there is a great need for words of healing and support, people willing to stand together and build the global community up instead of just themselves.” Her complete essay is available online. Over 900 essays were submitted in the competition. Josephine Koch, also from Forest Hills Northern, received an honorable mention award in the essay contest.
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