It’s often said that Westport students live in a bubble. The outside world seldom intrudes — particularly when that outside world involves racial issues.
TEAM Westport — the town’s multicultural organization — works to engage teenagers in “the real world.” One way they do that is through an annual essay contest.
This year’s premise says:
In the past year a troubling number of highly charged and tragic incidents — from Ferguson to Charleston to Chicago — have prompted public discussions and protests on college campuses about the state of race relations in the US. People disagree on the nature of the problem and on the appropriate way to address divisions in our society.
In 1,000 words or less, entrants are asked to describe how you, personally, make sense of the events that have occurred.
It’s a wide-open topic. It invites thought — and thoughtful, nuanced responses. The contest is open to all students in grades 9 through 12 who attend Staples High School, another school in Westport, or who live in Westport but go to school elsewhere.
Winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Westport Library on April 4 (coincidentally, the 48th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination).
Up to 3 prizes will be awarded. First prize is $1,000; 2nd is $750, 3rd $500. “06880” will highlight the winners.
TEAM Westport chair Harold Bailey says, “The focus of this year’s topic is to help extend the perspectives of Westport teens beyond those which would normally be driven by demographics. This topic has touched our community and others in Fairfield County directly over the past year.”
This is the 3rd TEAM Westport essay contest. Last year’s prompt asked students to reflect on who sat where in their school cafeteria — and how to break down barriers that prevented them from knowing others who were different from themselves.
In the inaugural contest, students reflected on demographic changes in the US — describing the benefits and challenges of the changes for Westport generally, and themselves personally.
This year’s entry deadline is February 26. Applications are available on the TEAM Westport website (www.teamwestport.org). For more information, or to help sponsor the contest (as individuals or organization), email email@example.com.