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CMU Congratulates Winners of 2014 High School Essay Contest

CMU is pleased to announce that Marta Bunnett of Havelock, NB; Francesca Cammarata of St. Albert, AB; and Larissa Campbell of Winnipeg, MB, are the winners of the 2014 High School Essay Contest.

Students were asked to respond formally in a 950- to 1100-word essay to one of three questions:

  1. What does it mean to “compare” literature? Can the study of comparative literature foster mutual understanding among readers and between communities?
  2. How do visual media communicate and tell stories? Compare and contrast visual and written literacy.
  3. “With great power comes great responsibility”—Voltaire. To what extent are wealthy, highly developed societies responsible for aiding “developing” countries? What are some pros and pitfalls of “aid” and “international development”?

Bunnett’s essay Responsibility for a More Equitable World placed first, earning her $500 in prize money. Second place at $300 went to Cammarata for her paper Care with Consideration, and Campbell took third prize at $200 for her work on The Responsibilities of Developed Countries to Less-Developed Countries.

2014's High School Essay Contest Winners (l-r) Marta Marta Bunnett, Francesca Cammarata, and Larissa Campbell
2014’s High School Essay Contest Winners (l-r) Marta Marta Bunnett,
Francesca Cammarata, and Larissa Campbell

Bunnett, who will be attending CMU in the fall to study International Development, says her interest in the subject first took root at her family’s organic farm:

“My parents have had a big influence on my thought in this area; on the farm, they always prioritized growing good food and caring for the land equally. They model a very relational perspective, in terms of how we should interact with the land and others, rather than a utilitarian one.”

Bunnett says one reason she chose pros and cons of International Development for her topic was so she could use the project as a motivator to further research some of the issues in which she was already interested. She is excited to pursue International Development Studies formally at CMU this fall:

“I want to deepen my understanding of these things. Right now I have ideas, but they are not all necessarily grounded in much; I want to study and participate in discussions and really work through these issues with others on a deeper level.”

Cammarata, who will be graduating in June, said she was “thrilled” to place in the contest and aspires to pursue music studies for her post-secondary education. Campbell is a grade 11 student and will be completing her diploma at Miles Macdonell Collegiate in Winnipeg next June.

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CMU announces winners of annual essay contest

Two students from Brandon, Man. and one student from Winnipeg, Man. are the winners of Canadian Mennonite University’s (CMU) annual essay contest for Manitoba high school students interested in the humanities.

The contest, judged by CMU faculty members from a number of disciplines within the Humanities, invited students to engage with questions about art, ethics, and theology.

Emma Ball, a Grade 11 student at Ecole Secondaire Neelin High School in Brandon, came in first place with her essay, “Poetry and the Working Class.” Second place went to Jaiann Nagtegaal, a Grade 12 student at Kildonan East Collegiate in Winnipeg for an essay that tackled the question, “Do Truth, Love, and Good Need Lies, Hate, and Evil to Be Meaningful?” Third place went to Rebecca Storey, a Grade 11 student also from Neelin High School, for her essay, “A Meaningless Mary Sue.”

IMG_00000257 - Version 2Ball won $500, Nagtegaal won $300, and Storey took home $200.

Students were invited to write a 950- to 1,100-word formal essay engaging one of three topics:

  1. Do truth, love and good need lies, hate, and evil to be meaningful?
  2. George Orwell said that language “ought to be the joint creation of poets and manual workers.” Discuss.
  3. Can public tax money legitimately be used to fund faith-based initiatives (e.g. social agencies, educational institutions, youth programs).

Ball says that she did not expect to win the contest.

“It was exciting,” she says, adding that she chose to write an essay in response to the George Orwell quotation because it was something she hadn’t thought about before.

“I thought I’d form my opinion as I wrote the paper,” she says. Her conclusion? “Language needs to be both efficient, clear and have a purpose, but it also needs to be beautiful. We need to find a balance between practicality and beauty when we use it.”

For Storey, winning $200 wasn’t the only highlight of entering the contest.

“I really like that the judges gave us feedback on our essays,” she says. “It was really helpful.”

Paul Dyck, Dean of Humanities & Sciences and Associate Professor of English at CMU, says judges were looking for essays that combined “good form and solid thinking along with some kind of creative reach.”

“At CMU, we believe in the importance of writing, and the importance of thinking through things clearly and imaginatively,” he says. “We’re really interested in cultivating that kind of work among our students, and recognizing and rewarding that kind of work among high school students.”

In an age of instant results, he adds, writing essays is still valuable. It allows people to take the time and energy to carefully think through important topics.

“That kind of activity is at the heart of the university,” he says.