LEO

The Ely Speech Prize for The Global Seminar: Signature

By Divi Bhaireddy, III Form

The Ely Speech Prize for The Global Seminar: Signature

The Ely Prize in Public Speaking, originally given by a member of the Class of 1892 in memory of his mother, is presented to the student who gave the best speech in the Global Seminar Public Speaking Competition.

Someday in the future, I will be someone’s ancestor. People will tell stories about me; what I did with my life, what family I made, and the impact I left behind. Those people in the future won’t know how I laughed or how I smiled, my quirks or my chatter, but instead, they’ll know all that I did with my life. My name will be passed down, and how I decide the way my name is remembered, is all in my hands. 

In the beginning of this school year, one of the first assignments we had in The Global Seminar was titled, “2.1 Our Names & Our Places in the World”. It was all about what our names meant and how it reflected our stories. And although we hadn’t chosen that name, it was still ours. 

Our names were given to us by other people. Whether it be your mother or your father who gave it to you, your grandmother or your religion, it isn’t your choice. My name is Divi. My full name: Divija. It means born in heaven. And since I was a child, my name has been mispronounced when people first meet me because it isn’t one that they have encountered before. But, this year in TGS, we learned about Hinduism. How rich my culture is and how sacred our beliefs are. We learned about Samsara, which is a cycle of life ultimately to reach a state of Moksha; enlightenment. It helped me gain a deep appreciation for my name and all its uniqueness. And once I came to terms with my love for my name, it was time for the hard part: how I wanted that name to represent me. 

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The William Otis Smith Prize for English Verse: “blue break of dawn”

By Sophie Chiang, V Form

The William Otis Smith Prize for English Verse: “blue break of dawn”

The William Otis Smith Prize for English Verse is given in memory of a member of the Class of 1907 and is awarded to one student, who, in the judgment of the English Department, has submitted the outstanding verse during the past year. 

blue break of dawn”

no one ever crosses the cracked crosswalks
in the blue break of dawn. your mind flickers 

into a sea-bloom of blue lights and credit cards,
of white powder and rolled-up dollar bills. you’ve 

never been too cautious, these mannequins seem 
to hold a gaze so intense it’s like you’re 17 and 

speeding past red & blue flashes all over again. 
you cry out and pick at your scalp, the one thing 

holding together everything you’re made of,
the one thing you’ve ever been terrified to grasp. 

there’s not much room to hold your new life next to
your mother’s faltering punch and your father’s

drunken breath. you wonder if this is universal. you
wonder if this is where it starts for people like you. you

wonder if that’s why when it matters, no one ever 
crosses the concrete where you come from.

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The Shen Prize: The Ongoing Struggle Against the Corrupting Influence of Money in Politics

By Alden Mehta, V Form

The Shen Speech Prize: The Ongoing Struggle Against the Corrupting Influence of Money in Politics

THE SHEN PRIZE is awarded to the winner of a public speaking contest among Advanced Placement United States History students on the topic of democracy. The prize is given by Y.L. Shen in honor of his daughters, Ing-ie (Ava) Shen of the Class of 1988 and Ing-Chuan (Judy) Shen of the Class of 1989.

Is it possible for influence in American politics to be bought? The answer is yes. In theory, a true democracy adequately represents the voice of its people, showing no bias towards status, identity, or wealth. We should see this representation reflected in the profiles of the politicians elected through the democratic process. However, in the US, political candidates rely on generous contributions from the wealthy to fund increasingly expensive campaign efforts. Through these contributions, the rich gain a degree of undue influence in politics; instead of reflecting the concerns of their electoral bases and amplifying the voices of the general public, we see politicians prioritizing the interests of their biggest donors. Campaign funding, rather than public interest, drives their work. This hole in American democracy led to the enactment of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), authored by Senator John Pastore (D-RI), in 1974. FECA sought to remove the corrupting influence of money from politics. Ultimately, FECA did not eliminate the importance of money in politics, but was still an expansion of democracy in the US because it set a lasting standard for campaign spending and contributions and increased government regulation in order to limit the influence of money in politics. 

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The Coleman Prize in English: Is Atonement Always Attainable?

By Madison Hoang, V Form

The Coleman Prize in English: Is Atonement Always Attainable?

The Coleman Prize in English, endowed by Joseph G. Coleman Jr., Class of 1899, is awarded to that student, who, in the judgment of the English Department, has submitted the outstanding essay during this academic year.

“She [Briony] was calm as she considered what she had to do. Together, the note to her parents and the formal statement would take no time at all . . . She knew what was required of her. Not simply a letter, but a new draft, an atonement, and she was ready to begin. BT” (McEwan 321).

In a shocking conclusion to Part III of Atonement, author Ian McEwan inserts the initials “BT,” revealing the crucial fact that thus far, the whole novel had been a written retelling by none other than the novel’s protagonist herself, Briony Tallis. It is only after her confrontation with her victims, her sister Cecilia and childhood housekeeper Robbie, that Briony finally “begin[s]” her process of atonement. Readers soon realize that the narrative portrayed in Part III is entirely a product of Briony’s imagination; in reality, she never gets the chance to confront Robbie and Cecilia, and she never did write a  “letter” or “formal statement”  to begin her atonement. Instead, “a new draft” – alluding to the entire novel in of itself – shows how Briony’s role as a writer throughout earlier stages of her life is linked to her inability to face her wrongdoings.  She thinks that an opportunity to retell her story is the only way for her to seek true atonement.  As a writer, Briony grows by exploring new perspectives, experimenting with new stylistic devices, and developing her stories’ plots.    As an adult, Briony also matures by becoming a more empathetic, accountable, and courageous figure, which ultimately allows her to attain atonement for her past wrongdoings.

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George Hill Burnett History Prize: The Camp Fire Girls and the Appropriation of Native American Culture

By Marianne Lyons, Class of 2022

George Hill Burnett History Prize: The Camp Fire Girls and the Appropriation of Native American Culture

The George Hill Burnett History Prize is given to commemorate the graduation in 1902 of a grandson of the founder. It is awarded on the basis of a special essay in American history.

American camping associations are iconic. The camping movement from its inception and in all its forms has shaped American culture. In fact, I have had the privilege of attending Wyonegonic Camps in Denmark, Maine for the past ten years. 

This past year as a counselor, I had the opportunity to pass down traditions directly to my campers. As part of this, I once took my cabin to my camp’s cramped museum, which holds the artifacts of Wyonegonic’s 120-year history. My campers humored me by asking questions about the different songs and pictures that covered the walls.

One of my campers paused as her hand hovered over a blurry, black and white picture. She called me over, and I studied the image. It was dated 1919 and showed a small white girl in Native American traditional dress. I paused. I thought hard about what to do and what to say next. Native American dress, lore, and appropriation are integral to the long history of the American camping movement. I didn’t know how to summarize and convey that history to my wide-eyed ten-year-old camper, but I knew I had to explain. I called my cabin over to the picture and opened up a conversation. I covered why this photograph might be offensive and encouraged the girls to share their perspectives. This conversation wasn’t easy, but it was important for my campers to understand the complexities of our shared history. 

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The Redmond Prize for English Narrative: Do We Ever Grow Up?

By Linda Li, IV Form

The Redmond Prize for English Narrative: Do We Ever Grow Up?

The Redmond Prize for English Narrative, presented in memory of Henry S. Redmond, Class of 1923, is awarded to the student, who, in the judgment of the English Department, has submitted the outstanding piece of narrative during this academic year.

My mom could answer everything I asked her. She could cook anything I wanted. With one hand she lifted up boxes I couldn’t budge with all my weight. Facing ghastly creatures – spiders or worms – she never showed a sliver of fear. She always held truth, knowing what was right, and what was wrong. So I trusted her with my everything. 

At night, she sat by the window alone. Drops of water trailed her face like beads in the dark, from her red and swollen eyes. I asked her what she was doing. 

“I’m counting the stars.” 

When my dad was nowhere to be found, I asked my mom where he was.

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The Camp Fire Girls and the Appropriation of Native American Culture

By Marianne Lyons, VI Form

The Camp Fire Girls and the Appropriation of Native American Culture

American camping associations are iconic. The camping movement from its inception and in all its forms has shaped American culture. In fact, I have had the privilege of attending Wyonegonic Camps in Denmark, Maine for the past ten years. 

This past year as a counselor, I had the opportunity to pass down traditions directly to my campers. As part of this, I once took my cabin to my camp’s cramped museum, which holds the artifacts of Wyonegonic’s 120-year history. My campers humored me by asking questions about the different songs and pictures that covered the walls.

One of my campers paused as her hand hovered over a blurry, black and white picture. She called me over, and I studied the image. It was dated 1919 and showed a small white girl in Native American traditional dress. I paused. I thought hard about what to do and what to say next. Native American dress, lore, and appropriation are integral to the long history of the American camping movement. I didn’t know how to summarize and convey that history to my wide-eyed ten-year-old camper, but I knew I had to explain. I called my cabin over to the picture and opened up a conversation. I covered why this photograph might be offensive and encouraged the girls to share their perspectives. This conversation wasn’t easy, but it was important for my campers to understand the complexities of our shared history. 

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Conservative Talk Radio and Its Impact on Heightened Partisanship

By Carl Guo, VI Form

Conservative Talk Radio and Its Impact on Heightened Partisanship

“[Obama is] a veritable rookie whose only chance of winning [the 2008 election] is that he’s black.” 

“If any race of people should not have guilt about slavery, it’s Caucasians.” 

“Women should not be allowed on juries where the accused is a stud.”

Jason Silverstein, “Rush Limbaugh now has a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Here are just 20 of the outrageous  things he’s said,” CBS News, last modified February 6, 2020, accessed January 12, 2022,  https://www.cbsnews.com/news/rush-limbaugh-presidential-medal-of-freedom-state-of-the-union-outrageous quotes/.

Rush Limbaugh, the renowned conservative talk radio host, made the above statements.  Appalled by these comments and other similar ones, some liberals posted similarly incendiary remarks on Twitter when Limbaugh died on February 17, 2021. Music producer Finneas wrote,  “Feeling very sorry for the people of Hell who now have to deal with Rush Limbaugh for the rest  of eternity.” “God has canceled Rush Limbaugh,” said Crooked Media host Erin Ryan.  Comedian Paul F. Tompkins reacted with: “I’m glad Rush Limbaugh lived long enough to get cancer and die.”

While liberals condemn Limbaugh, conservatives respect him as a conservative media pioneer and a lovable host whose shows they listened to every day. Former President Donald  Trump even awarded Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award  the President can bestow to recognize “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or  national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private  endeavors.”3 Trump announced the award in perhaps the most grandiose way: during the 2020 State of the Union Address.4 In Trump’s words, this award honors Limbaugh’s “decades of  tireless devotion to our country” and “the millions of people a day that [he] speaks to and  inspires.”5 Even without presidential recognition, however, Rush Limbaugh cemented his legacy by reviving dying AM radio stations during the 1980s and amassed a large and loyal audience  since. Talkers Magazine ranked The Rush Limbaugh Show as the most-listened-to talk radio show from 1987 to 2021, with an average of 15 million listeners per week.6

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