Rosarian Academy middle school students earned multiple awards in the 2021 Palm Beach Fellowship of Christians & Jews Essay Contest & Creative Arts Competition. The annual competition is open to middle school and high school students from schools across Palm Beach County. This year’s theme was “advocacy,” and students created an essay, poem, piece of music, video, or visual work of art to express the importance of being an advocate. The content could range from personal anecdotes to a “big picture” cause, and students were to incorporate one of a few quotes on the subject. Out of hundreds of submissions, ten Rosarian Academy students earned awards in the competition.
Rosarian Academy is founded on the Dominican pillars of scholarship, prayer, service, and community, and each principle was well-represented in the submissions of its students. In her poem, which earned Second Place for 7th Grade poetry, Ava Castro wrote how her faith led her to serve those in need on a mission trip to Nicaragua.
“My parents and I boarded a plane,” Castro wrote. “When we got off we saw hunger and pain … We helped the school build a kitchen so they could be fed as they learned our religion.”
In a similar sentiment, Mercer Ward, who won First Place for Middle School Music for her rap, expounded upon her personal experiences that motivated her music.
“I personally love to support my community and anyone I can,” Ward wrote. “For example, during Christmas time, my close family, friends, and I started a charity called ‘Don’t let COVID steal Christmas.’ We raised more than $15,000 and bought tons of toys, then donated them to various adoption shelters.”
Other Rosarian students expressed the importance of advocacy ranging from Second Place in 8th Grade Poetry Winner Risa Hernandez’s eloquent call to “Stop Asian Hate” to First Place in 8th Grade Poetry Winner Emeline Chopin’s beautiful prose advocating for environmental conservation in “The Greenwood Thicket.” Hernandez wrote, in part,
“We are all human inside
Yet some people take so much pride
In claiming others are not as perfectly made
Just because they don’t look the same.”
Chopin expressed her sentiments about deforestation in the following excerpt.
“… For if we do not protect our forests, and ensure our trees stay safe,
Mother Nature cannot flourish
And our woodlands will be reduced to a wraith…”
In all of their works of art, the Rosarian Academy students and the teachers that supported them masterfully demonstrated how the principles of scholarship, prayer, service, and community were truly building a foundation for their lives. The Palm Beach Fellowship of Christians & Jews recognized the following students with awards.
Ainslee Aden, Special Judges Award – Video
Ava Castro, Second Place – 7th Grade Poetry
Emeline Chopin, First Place – 8th Grade Poetry
Bailey Groth, Honorable Mention – 8th Grade Poetry
Risa Hernandez, Second Place – 8th Grade Poetry
Ella Ross Lang, Third Place – 7th Grade Poetry
Joseph Modenos, Third Place – 8th Grade Poetry
Matthew Pfaff, Honorable Mention – Video
Parker Pressly, Special Judges Award – Collage
Mercer Ward, First Place – Music/Middle School
The Palm Beach Fellowship for Christians & Jews also endeavored to honor the teachers that supported these students.
Mrs. Kimberly St. John, 6th Grade English & Literature Teacher
Mrs. Katie Segerdahl, 7th Grade English & Literature Teacher
Mrs. Judith Valdov, 8th Grade English & Literature Teacher
Rosarian Academy, founded in 1925, educates students from early childhood through eighth grade and offers an exceptionally strong academic program enriched by athletics, visual and performing arts, and community service opportunities. STEM, coding, art, drama, music theory, and Spanish classes begin in kindergarten. The independent, Catholic school is located on Flagler Drive in downtown West Palm Beach and is sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters. Bus service is available throughout Palm Beach County. For more information, visit www.rosarian.org or call 561.345.3106.