St. Johnsbury Academy sophomore Maely Brightman of Lyme, NH was named a finalist in the 2020 State of the Union essay contest sponsored by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. The essays of the winners and finalists will be entered into the Congressional Record, the official archive of the United States Senate and House of Representatives. Maely and the other finalists will also be interviewed about their essay topic and will appear in Sanders' official videos and social media accounts.
This year, 536 students from 41 Vermont high schools submitted essays. Climate change and health care were the two topics most frequently written about in the student essays.
Maely Brightman's essay begins,
"Today in many schools, students are receiving inadequate sex education and it's negatively impacting their health and well-being. In the United States only 24 states require public schools to have sex education and 20 of them require it to be medically accurate. The lack of coverage on subjects such as safe sex, LGBTQ topics, menstruation, and body image is damaging the well-being of today's youths."
Senator Sanders said, "I'm thrilled students from all across Vermont participated in this year's essay contest. Over the past ten years students have written about issues that are not only affecting their lives, but our communities, our country and our planet. I created this contest not as a homework assignment, but because we need our students to help find solutions for the problems that face our country as they are our future leaders."
David Eckhardt, Chair of the SJA Social Studies department, said, "I was very pleased that Maely was recognized as a finalist in Senator Sanders' annual essay contest. Her essay focused on an important topic that does not get much attention in the media. Maely continues the trend of Academy students being recognized for their writing in this contest. We have had at least one student recognized for each of the past five years. The contest provides our students with the option of writing for an authentic outside audience."