What is a hero? A hero is defined as a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities. Recently, Senator Bryan Simonaire encouraged District 31 principals to have their students participate in an essay contest. More than 540 fourth- and fifth-grade students submitted essays describing a hero in their life as part of the 11th annual Young Heroes Essay Contest.
The contest originated through a thought-provoking conversation between Simonaire and his oldest son, Isaac. Isaac observed that many children were doing amazing things in their communities, but oftentimes, their good deeds were not heard beyond immediate family and close friends. Isaac discussed creating a program where these “young heroes” could be highlighted and celebrated in the hopes that their positive contributions would inspire others to make a difference as well.
On October 22, all students who submitted essays were invited to attend a ceremony at Northeast High School, where they received citations from Senator Simonaire, Delegate Nic Kipke and Delegate Meagan Simonaire. This year’s ceremony had the energy of a pep rally. Winning essayists and their heroes were invited onstage for additional accolades and photos with the legislators. Winners will also receive an invitation to an evening in Annapolis where they will be recognized on both the Senate and House floors this upcoming session.
Winning essayists included Lillian Robidoux, Cecelia Hitchcock, Brian Hernandez, Kendra Holtman, Chelsea Poore, Eva Bombard, Nyasia Seabrook, Alexis Gunn, Mahliya Moaney, Hailey Herd, Andrew Jun and Addison Albert.
Heroes mentioned included a girl who used her birthday as an opportunity to raise money for the SPCA; a child who organized a canned food drive and helped beautify her neighborhood by picking up trash; and a kid who helped an elderly neighbor with yard work, meals and housework after a heart attack.
Hometown heroes like brave volunteer firefighters were mentioned alongside classmates who helped make a new student feel welcomed and appreciated. Some essays, like the one describing the bravery and positivity of a young cancer survivor, or the story of a young boy being saved from drowning, evoked tears while others warmed hearts with their sincere appreciation for siblings and family members.
Contests like this are spreading awareness to the multitude of ways youth can influence their communities. “It is so wonderful to hear of the endless good deeds and goodwill of our youth,” said Bryan Simonaire. “In our 11th year, their stories are just as moving as the first year. We have amazing young people in our communities.”