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The McCarthey Family Foundation last week named winners and finalists in their Lecture Series Essay Contest, which the foundation expanded this year to include middle and high schoolers. Rowland Hall students had a strong showing on the topic of why a free press matters in a democracy: eighth-grader Arden Louchheim won the middle school division and judges named sixth-grader Aiden Gandhi, sophomore Katy Dark, and recent alumna Madeline Brague '18 finalists in their age groups.

Arden learned of her win Friday morning in the Middle School main office: "When I walked into the room all I saw were all the important people in our school: principal, assistant principal, head of school...It was pretty intimidating," she said. "But when I found out I had won I was incredibly honored, happy, and surprised, and I actually started crying."

I learned a lot about how freedom of the press affected Japanese-American internees during World War II. This topic also hits close to home for me because my grandparents were interned. —Arden Louchheim, eighth grader

During the night of the lecture November 10, the eighth grader will be introduced to the typically standing-room-only audience of over 600 people and collect her $1,500 cash prize. All three winning essays will be printed in the evening's program, and Arden will be the youngest person in contest history to receive this honor.

Arden said she entered, in part, because the topic intrigued her. "Writing the essay was a fun but challenging process," she said. "I learned a lot about how freedom of the press affected Japanese-American internees during World War II. This topic also hits close to home for me because my grandparents were interned."

The middle schooler encouraged fellow students to enter contests like this one. "I had never done anything like this before, but I figured I could try it," she said. "I know many kids my age who are incredibly capable writers and students who deserve a shot at something like this."

Arden said she plans to donate a portion of her prize money to the Japanese-American National Museum. The Rowmark Junior athlete said she'll also use some of the cash to help pay for her race skis, but she'll save the majority of it for college and beyond.

The foundation received a total of 406 entries from Utah students across all three age groups. "The quality of writing and thoughtfulness of the essays surpassed our expectations and confirmed our rationale for the competition," said Philip G. McCarthey, trustee of the McCarthey Family Foundation and Rowland Hall. "Even the youngest essayists reflected a keen awareness of the vital importance of the press in our country and demonstrated a genuine understanding of the historical and current political challenges facing our nation today."

Rowland Hall serves as the venue for the lecture, but that doesn't impact judges' decisions: they aren't told essayists' names or schools.

Read contest coverage in the The Salt Lake Tribune and The Park Record.

Below is Arden's essay, unedited by Rowland Hall.

Views expressed in the following essay are those of the writer and don't necessarily represent those of Rowland Hall and its employees.


Essay question for Utah students in grades six through eight

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." —First Amendment to the United States Constitution (1791)

In an essay of 500 words, explain what the First Amendment to the United States Constitution means (1) for the press in the United States and why its freedom matters; and (2) provide examples to support your position.

Winner

Learn from the Past, Improve the Future

By Arden Louchheim, Rowland Hall eighth grader

The First Amendment to the Constitution protects the press' freedom from government censorship. That freedom is vital for American citizens to be able to make informed decisions about the world around them. Freedom of the press allows individuals to know the truth about exactly what is happening from every side of a story. A quote from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black sums up Freedom of the press very well. "The press was to serve the governed, not the governors."

One-sided newspaper stories brainwashed readers into believing that Japanese citizens were a threat. On the other hand, newspapers produced by Japanese-Americans inside the camps were all censored to the public.

Throughout U.S. history, freedom of the press has been abused such as during the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. 120,000 citizens of Japanese descent were interned during World War II just because of their ethnicity; because they looked like the enemy. During the internment, the government used the press as a way to legitimize their acts against the interned. The government mainly used newspapers to plant the idea that Japanese citizens were a danger to society and it was for the safety of the nation that they were interned. One-sided newspaper stories brainwashed readers into believing that Japanese citizens were a threat. On the other hand, newspapers produced by Japanese-Americans inside the camps were all censored to the public. The interned individuals also could not write the newspapers in Japanese, the native language to some, because they could not be easily translated by the government. The country's only Japanese-American newspaper (in Bainbridge Island, WA) was forced to shut down when its staff was relocated to camps. In the words of Takeya Mizuno, assistant professor at the University of Tokyo, press freedom inside the camps was "conditional at best".

Today, the government's attempt to control the messages from the press is similar to the control of news during World War II. Currently, the government is trying to discredit anything the press puts out that it doesn't agree with, calling it "fake news," even if it is true. The present-day administration is abusing the law of free press, which could cause history to repeat itself. Just as President Roosevelt did 75 years ago, President Trump is trying to only let citizens see one-sided news; The news that he agrees with. The current executives are promoting racism by trying to exclude people based on their race or religion. Our current executives are trying to take away citizens' trust of the press and increase the trust within themselves. Tom Ikeda, the founding director of Densho, an organization that chronicles the internment of Japanese during World War II, states, "The hateful rhetoric directed at Japanese 75 years ago is similar to what is heard today against Muslims, members of the black community and immigrants."

The internment camps of World War II show how abuse of the free press can contribute to painful mistakes, and with the current state of the government, we could be heading down that path again. This issue is especially important to me because my grandparents and their siblings were some of the internees. We must remember that our country was built upon truth so we cannot let history repeat itself.

Bibliography

  • Diltz, Collin. "How Bainbridge Island Japanese were Registered, Forced from their Homes During World War II", Seattle Times. December 2016
  • Ostergaard, Kolleen. Smart, Chris. McGuire, Tom. Lanz, Madeline. Hodson, Timothy A. "The Japanese-American Internment During World War II: A Discussion of Civil Liberties Then and Now". May 2000
  • Supreme Court Case, "New York Times Co. v. United States". 1971
  • Mizuno, Takeya. "Press Freedom in the Enemy's Language". October 2015

Top photo: Eighth-grader Arden Louchheim in the Middle School office after learning she'd won the essay contest for her age group. From left, McCarthey Family Foundation Trustee Philip G. McCarthey, Rowland Hall Head of School Alan Sparrow, Arden, eighth-grade English teacher Mike Roberts, and Middle School Principal Pam Smith. (Photo by Akemi Louchheim)

Student Voices

Students Fluent in Why a Free Press Matters

The McCarthey Family Foundation last week named winners and finalists in their Lecture Series Essay Contest, which the foundation expanded this year to include middle and high schoolers. Rowland Hall students had a strong showing on the topic of why a free press matters in a democracy: eighth-grader Arden Louchheim won the middle school division and judges named sixth-grader Aiden Gandhi, sophomore Katy Dark, and recent alumna Madeline Brague '18 finalists in their age groups.

Arden learned of her win Friday morning in the Middle School main office: "When I walked into the room all I saw were all the important people in our school: principal, assistant principal, head of school...It was pretty intimidating," she said. "But when I found out I had won I was incredibly honored, happy, and surprised, and I actually started crying."

I learned a lot about how freedom of the press affected Japanese-American internees during World War II. This topic also hits close to home for me because my grandparents were interned. —Arden Louchheim, eighth grader

During the night of the lecture November 10, the eighth grader will be introduced to the typically standing-room-only audience of over 600 people and collect her $1,500 cash prize. All three winning essays will be printed in the evening's program, and Arden will be the youngest person in contest history to receive this honor.

Arden said she entered, in part, because the topic intrigued her. "Writing the essay was a fun but challenging process," she said. "I learned a lot about how freedom of the press affected Japanese-American internees during World War II. This topic also hits close to home for me because my grandparents were interned."

The middle schooler encouraged fellow students to enter contests like this one. "I had never done anything like this before, but I figured I could try it," she said. "I know many kids my age who are incredibly capable writers and students who deserve a shot at something like this."

Arden said she plans to donate a portion of her prize money to the Japanese-American National Museum. The Rowmark Junior athlete said she'll also use some of the cash to help pay for her race skis, but she'll save the majority of it for college and beyond.

The foundation received a total of 406 entries from Utah students across all three age groups. "The quality of writing and thoughtfulness of the essays surpassed our expectations and confirmed our rationale for the competition," said Philip G. McCarthey, trustee of the McCarthey Family Foundation and Rowland Hall. "Even the youngest essayists reflected a keen awareness of the vital importance of the press in our country and demonstrated a genuine understanding of the historical and current political challenges facing our nation today."

Rowland Hall serves as the venue for the lecture, but that doesn't impact judges' decisions: they aren't told essayists' names or schools.

Read contest coverage in the The Salt Lake Tribune and The Park Record.

Below is Arden's essay, unedited by Rowland Hall.

Views expressed in the following essay are those of the writer and don't necessarily represent those of Rowland Hall and its employees.


Essay question for Utah students in grades six through eight

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." —First Amendment to the United States Constitution (1791)

In an essay of 500 words, explain what the First Amendment to the United States Constitution means (1) for the press in the United States and why its freedom matters; and (2) provide examples to support your position.

Winner

Learn from the Past, Improve the Future

By Arden Louchheim, Rowland Hall eighth grader

The First Amendment to the Constitution protects the press' freedom from government censorship. That freedom is vital for American citizens to be able to make informed decisions about the world around them. Freedom of the press allows individuals to know the truth about exactly what is happening from every side of a story. A quote from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black sums up Freedom of the press very well. "The press was to serve the governed, not the governors."

One-sided newspaper stories brainwashed readers into believing that Japanese citizens were a threat. On the other hand, newspapers produced by Japanese-Americans inside the camps were all censored to the public.

Throughout U.S. history, freedom of the press has been abused such as during the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. 120,000 citizens of Japanese descent were interned during World War II just because of their ethnicity; because they looked like the enemy. During the internment, the government used the press as a way to legitimize their acts against the interned. The government mainly used newspapers to plant the idea that Japanese citizens were a danger to society and it was for the safety of the nation that they were interned. One-sided newspaper stories brainwashed readers into believing that Japanese citizens were a threat. On the other hand, newspapers produced by Japanese-Americans inside the camps were all censored to the public. The interned individuals also could not write the newspapers in Japanese, the native language to some, because they could not be easily translated by the government. The country's only Japanese-American newspaper (in Bainbridge Island, WA) was forced to shut down when its staff was relocated to camps. In the words of Takeya Mizuno, assistant professor at the University of Tokyo, press freedom inside the camps was "conditional at best".

Today, the government's attempt to control the messages from the press is similar to the control of news during World War II. Currently, the government is trying to discredit anything the press puts out that it doesn't agree with, calling it "fake news," even if it is true. The present-day administration is abusing the law of free press, which could cause history to repeat itself. Just as President Roosevelt did 75 years ago, President Trump is trying to only let citizens see one-sided news; The news that he agrees with. The current executives are promoting racism by trying to exclude people based on their race or religion. Our current executives are trying to take away citizens' trust of the press and increase the trust within themselves. Tom Ikeda, the founding director of Densho, an organization that chronicles the internment of Japanese during World War II, states, "The hateful rhetoric directed at Japanese 75 years ago is similar to what is heard today against Muslims, members of the black community and immigrants."

The internment camps of World War II show how abuse of the free press can contribute to painful mistakes, and with the current state of the government, we could be heading down that path again. This issue is especially important to me because my grandparents and their siblings were some of the internees. We must remember that our country was built upon truth so we cannot let history repeat itself.

Bibliography

  • Diltz, Collin. "How Bainbridge Island Japanese were Registered, Forced from their Homes During World War II", Seattle Times. December 2016
  • Ostergaard, Kolleen. Smart, Chris. McGuire, Tom. Lanz, Madeline. Hodson, Timothy A. "The Japanese-American Internment During World War II: A Discussion of Civil Liberties Then and Now". May 2000
  • Supreme Court Case, "New York Times Co. v. United States". 1971
  • Mizuno, Takeya. "Press Freedom in the Enemy's Language". October 2015

Top photo: Eighth-grader Arden Louchheim in the Middle School office after learning she'd won the essay contest for her age group. From left, McCarthey Family Foundation Trustee Philip G. McCarthey, Rowland Hall Head of School Alan Sparrow, Arden, eighth-grade English teacher Mike Roberts, and Middle School Principal Pam Smith. (Photo by Akemi Louchheim)

Student Voices

Explore More Stories By Students

Micha Nenbee, Ke'ea Ramirez, and Katy Dark in Seattle

By Ke’ea Ramirez, Class of 2021

In November 2018, then-sophomore Ke’ea Ramirez was one of six Rowland Hall students who traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC). The SDLC takes place each year in conjunction with the National Association of Independent Schools’ (NAIS) People of Color Conference, the flagship of NAIS’ commitment to equity and justice in teaching, learning, and organizational development. As described on their website, the SDLC gives student leaders in grades nine through twelve opportunities to develop cross-cultural communication skills, design effective strategies for social justice practice through dialogue and the arts, and learn the foundations of allyship and networking principles. In addition to large group sessions, students join family groups that allow for smaller unit dialogue and sharing, as well as affinity groups, which gather people with common interests, backgrounds, and experiences. Each participating school is allowed to send up to six students to the SDLC, with conference attendance limited to 1,600 students.

Despite initial hesitation, Ke’ea quickly found herself inspired by the multiracial, multicultural gathering of student leaders and, since then, has sought out opportunities to engage with students from around the country—including by attending another SDLC in November 2019. She shares the story of her first conference experience below.


When my mom told me that she had signed me up for a diversity conference, I was very skeptical and hesitant to go. She told me that it was a good learning opportunity and that I would appreciate the experience. I did not want to do it, and as soon as I looked at the schedule, I decided that the conference would not only be a terrible time, but also that I would have no time for sleep or homework. The schedule was busy and consisted of me waking up at 6 every morning, walking to a conference outside in the freezing cold, getting 45 minutes for lunch, going back to the conference, and then returning to the hotel at 10 pm. Even though it was only a few days, I did not want to go.

On November 28, I got on the plane to Nashville with five other students from Rowland Hall. The next morning, when I got to the conference, we sat in a room with hundreds of other students from all over America. I felt very overwhelmed; I was in a different state on the complete other side of the country, surrounded by so many other kids and adults. I was amazed by how many students actually went to the conference, and, surprisingly, found myself inspired by the speakers. At that moment I remember thinking, “Maybe the conference won’t be as bad as I thought.” After the opening ceremony, my mindset changed a little bit, going from, “This is going to be the worst thing ever,” to, “Maybe I can tolerate this for a few days.”

I felt like I had known these other students my entire life. I made best friends in less than an hour and connected with so many people.

Next, we shuffled into our smaller family groups of around 50 students. If you know me, you know that I am not very outgoing and I tend to be shy. In addition, I was only a sophomore; I thought that I would be trampled by all the other junior and senior students. However, after the first activity (a classic ice-breaker game), I felt like I had known these other students my entire life. I made best friends in less than an hour and connected with so many people from around the country. I felt as though I had actually made a new family, despite my initial reluctance. My thoughts then changed again, from, “Maybe I can tolerate this for a few days,” to, “I am so happy that my mom forced me to go.”

Ke'ea Ramirez with her SDLC family group

Ke'ea's SDLC family group, which met several times throughout the conference to engage in dialogue and sharing.

We spent nearly eight hours in family groups, and then we moved on to affinity groups. I ended up going to the Asian/Pacific Islander affinity group; this group was at least three times as big as my family group. A lot of the students that went to the conference with me from Rowland Hall also attended this affinity group, and some of my new friends from my family group were present. Initially, I thought that affinity groups were where people got together and talked about problems that we could all relate to. However, there was a lot more than I had expected. While we did talk about serious topics, we also had a lot of fun, and, similar to the family group, I connected with people and, again, made best friends fast.

This conference was so important to me because all students were represented, and it is always important to hear the issues of others and to become aware of what is happening around the country.

The first thing we did the next day was to separate into smaller groups and have a singing competition. While it sounds embarrassing and silly, it was actually so much fun, and it allowed us to all come together, gain courage, and laugh. I realized that my preconceived notion of the conference was wrong. What I expected was not what was reality. It was at that moment when my mindset, once again, changed from, “I am so happy that my mom forced me to go,” to, “I never, ever want to leave this conference.”

After we left Nashville and the SDLC behind, I reflected on my experience and realized how much I loved the conference and how glad I was that I went. My favorite session was either family groups or affinity groups because of how many amazing people I met, all the fun activities we did, and how much we ended up feeling like a true family. I made lifelong friends that I am still close to and talk to all the time; I also became even closer to the Rowland Hall students who went to the conference. This conference was so important to me as well because all students were represented, and it is always important to hear the issues of others and to become aware of what is happening around the country.

Even though I wasn’t initially excited to attend, the SDLC turned out to be one of my best experiences in high school—and I immediately signed up for two more conferences when I returned: the 2019 Northwest Association of Independent Schools’ Student Diversity Leadership Retreat in Portland, Oregon, and the 2019 SDLC in Seattle, Washington. I will also be returning to Seattle this May in a leadership role: I’m going to help run affinity spaces and mentor middle school students at the 2020 Student Diversity Leadership Retreat. I am excited to be working with younger students and I hope that they will be just as inspired and motivated as I was.


Top photo, from left: Rowland Hall students Micha Nenbee, Ke'ea Ramirez, and Katy Dark took a break from the 2019 SLDC to explore Seattle's famous Pike Place Market. (Photos courtesy Ke'ea Ramirez)

Ethical Education

Jada Crockett playing soccer

By Jada Crockett, Class of 2023

This story originally appeared in the January 2020 Rowland Hall Gazette. It has been updated for Fine Print.

Wake up at 6:30, eat breakfast and get ready for school at 7:15, leave for school at 7:25, go to school from 8:15 to 3:05, practice soccer from 6 to 8, get home at 8:30, do homework, eat dinner, and go to bed. 

That is a daily routine for me. Being a student-athlete requires time management, good communication, and organizational skills. We have many things to juggle on our schedules, and we don’t always have a lot of time for friends, family, or schoolwork.

To show how we fit it all in, I interviewed four student-athletes who play soccer at Rowland Hall. I chose to interview soccer players because the sport is played year-round and is very time-consuming. I discovered that they have all learned how to manage their time differently but successfully.


Student:  Camryn Kennedy  
Year:  Sophomore  
Teams:  Rowland Hall, USA Metro  


    


Camryn devotes three and a half hours to soccer practice per week. When I asked her how she manages her time as a student-athlete, she said, “I always put school first.” I am on the same club team as Camryn, and our coach always tells us that we have to put school first, even if as a result we miss practice. I also asked her how being an athlete makes her a better person. She said, “It is easier to communicate. When I am on the field, I talk a lot and I transfer that to everyday life.” I would have to agree with this. We have to talk to our teachers more about missing school, and we talk to many coaches, players, and teammates. It is necessary to talk on the field to tell your teammate what to do, when someone is right behind them, to get wide or to come in closer, or even just, “Good job.” This relates to talking to people in everyday life, because talking on the field makes you more comfortable talking to people outside of sports.


Student:  Aimar Perez
Year:  Freshman
Teams:  Rowland Hall, USA Metro

 

 

Aimar also devotes three and a half hours a week to soccer. She plans ahead in order to manage her time with her crazy schedule. I asked her how she is different from her friends who don’t play sports, and she said, “I don’t hang out with my friends as much as they hang out with each other.” Sports are very time-consuming, and you need to have an organized schedule, which sometimes makes you lose time for your friends. Aimar said that sports give her a different perspective on life.


Student:  Jesus Lamas
Year:  Junior
Teams:  Rowland Hall, La Roca, Olympic Development Program

I think it is easier to be an athlete because you develop more confidence—we are used to the pressure of our sports and many people coming to watch our events. In my opinion, I am not as scared to mess up in front of people because I already have.

    
       
    

Jesus devotes 16 hours a week to his sport. He said that he has developed good time management, and he tries not to waste any free time. “Athletes are more confident, fit, have better mindsets, and are more interesting,” he told me. Staying fit is a key component of being an athlete, and it takes a lot of time. You have to make healthy food choices, practice with your team, and take time to practice on your own. I think it is easier to be an athlete because you develop more confidence—we are used to the pressure of our sports and many people coming to watch our events. In my opinion, I am not as scared to mess up in front of people because I already have. That is also why we have better mindsets. We are under pressure all the time and mess up daily. I think that because of this, we look at the positives and have a better mindset. And athletes are interesting because it is fun to learn about their sports and their backgrounds, like how they started and their inspiration. 


Student:  Mason Schlopy
Year:  Sophomore
Team:  Park City Soccer Club; in addition to soccer, Mason skis for Rowmark Ski Academy


Mason spends around 28 hours a week playing and training for his sports. When I asked Mason how he manages his time, he said, “You have to be efficient when working on school when time is limited. Also, communicating with teachers becomes very important.” He stays busy all of the time and has limited time to hang out with his friends. “Being an athlete has shown me that nothing is given and everything is earned, and that is also relevant in school. Being an athlete has shown me how to be respectful, part of a team, and committed to something that I love.” Commitment is necessary in order to become successful, and a very good trait for life because you have to stay committed in a relationship, to a schedule, and to many more things that you want to devote your time to.


Student-athletes require good time management that can be practiced in many different ways. There are many factors to becoming a successful student-athlete, and people handle it differently. Even though it is stressful at times, I always have enough time to spend with family and friends and to get everything done that I need to. In my opinion, being a student-athlete makes us better in the long run because we have to plan everything early, communicate with more people (including those older than us), stay committed to the important things in our lives, and do work in a limited time.


Top photo: Jada Crockett playing soccer for Rowland Hall.

Athletics

Senior Jordan Crockett Commits to Playing D1 Soccer for the University of Denver

On November 13, surrounded by family and friends, Rowland Hall senior Jordan Crockett did something she had been dreaming about for years: she signed the National Letter of Intent confirming her decision to play soccer at the University of Denver (DU). 

A dream come true: Jordan signing her National Letter of Intent at her November 13 signing party.


Jordan is one of eight women who signed onto DU’s 2020 roster this month. As a Division I school—the highest level of intercollegiate sports sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)—DU recruits some of the strongest high-school athletes from around the country. Jordan brings to the team years of high-level experience in club soccer, where she has played on several Utah teams: Black Diamond Soccer Club, Utah Soccer Alliance, and Celtic Premier FC, which won the US Youth Soccer National Championship in July.

While club players often choose to play at that level alone, rather than on high school teams, Jordan opted to play at Rowland Hall because of its close-knit community and for an extra, athletics-focused layer of college counseling and preparation. Bobby Kennedy, who coached Jordan for four years, explained that Rowland Hall was committed to helping her achieve her goal of playing D1 soccer. To do this, the school didn’t just help to hone her technical skills; her coaches, teachers, and college counselor also helped Jordan identify her top schools and develop the academic skills necessary to secure a spot on their teams—and, ultimately, in their classrooms.

Jordan’s high-caliber skills don’t come with an inflated ego: she’s a recognized leader among her peers, in part, because she’s fully committed to Rowland Hall’s team-first, family-like atmosphere, Bobby said.

“When we asked all the kids where they would prefer to play, she would write down, ‘Anywhere on the field but goalie,’” he explained. “You might think a player that’s reached her level of prominence in club, and is the classification’s MVP, would say, “I want to play center midfield,’ or ‘I want to play up front where I can score goals.’ By saying ‘I’ll play anywhere,’ you can read into the fact that she’s putting the team first.”

In addition to her strong leadership, Bobby said, Rowland Hall will remember Jordan as a consummate student-athlete, and probably the most impactful player in the last 10 years. 

“She’s literally a once-in-a-decade player,” he said.

Update November 26, 2019: For the second time, Jordan Crockett has been named 2A MVP. Read the story in the Deseret News. Congratulations, Jordan!


We asked Jordan to share more about her experience and how it feels to commit to DU. The following interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Tell us about your athletic journey.

I started playing soccer when I was two, with my mom. I wasn’t really focused on soccer at first—I was a gymnast until I was around six. Then I decided I just wanted to play soccer, and that’s when I started playing club competitively. Once I got to Rowland Hall, my freshman year was a little bit rocky, adjusting to a level I wasn’t really used to playing at. But to build a relationship with people who are in the same community as me every single day was super special. The next three years we won the state championship, which was amazing. And with club, my junior year, I was also able to win the national championship. We are the first team from Utah to ever do that, so that was pretty amazing too.

Why was it important for you to continue playing at the high school level, even while you were involved with club soccer?

I didn’t want to let go of the community; I wanted to stay throughout my four years. It was a different level, but taught me how to lead in a different way and how to share an experience with everyone else. It helped me understand that I’m building family relationships with all of my teammates.

What does it mean to you to be recruited by a D1 school for the sport you love?

Relieved is one of the main things. I was recruited by many D1 schools, and to go to Denver is honestly a blessing. I remember 13-year-old me taking Polaroid pictures of my Denver soccer shirt and posting them on my wall. It’s really a dream come true.

How were you able to balance academics and athletics while at Rowland Hall?

My teachers, the principals, and the whole staff at Rowland Hall are so helpful and really easy to communicate with about being a high-level athlete and having to balance academics. I think being able to have a community that’s so accepting, and having them support me through my whole athletic career, was super helpful.

What is the top skill you gained at Rowland Hall that you'll be taking with you to Denver?

Probably the willingness to be open to new things. Rowland Hall has given me a lot of opportunities, both inside and outside the classroom. It’s really cool that Rowland Hall is a community that is able to teach you new things every single day.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I want to be on the national team—that’s one of my biggest hopes and dreams. But if not, then I see myself in a job I enjoy, with my family and friends supporting me, and just enjoying life— trying to take each day a step at a time and live with no regrets.

Athletics

Rowland Hall student essayists.

For the second-consecutive year, a Rowland Hall student has taken home the grand prize in the middle school category of the McCarthey Family Foundation’s Lecture Series Essay Contest. Eighth grader Omar Alsolaiman won $1,500 for his cogent interpretation of a famous Walter Cronkite quote on how freedom of the press is the bedrock of democracy.

Omar entered the contest because he thought it would be fun, he said, and a good opportunity to learn more about the Constitution and our rights. In the process of crafting his submission, he discovered a lot about the topic and his own writing style. “I learned that I prefer writing a detailed outline that allows me to organize my thoughts and then practically copy and paste them into the final essay,” he said. “I also learned that I am often a writer who struggles to ‘cut the fat.’” But cut the fat, he did: Omar’s essay clocked in at 493 words, just under the competition’s 500-word limit. He was surprised, excited, and grateful, he said, to learn his hard work paid off with a win.

In addition to Omar’s win, seventh grader Aiden Gandhi and senior Kajal Ganesh landed finalist nods in their respective categories. Aiden was also a finalist last year.

In addition to Omar’s win, seventh grader Aiden Gandhi and senior Kajal Ganesh landed finalist nods in their respective categories. Aiden was also a finalist last year, when then-eighth-grader Arden Louchheim won. Read last year’s story.

The total number of contest submissions grew to 456 this year, up from 400 last year, and the number of middle school entries doubled. Foundation Trustee Philip G. McCarthey—also the vice chair of Rowland Hall’s Board of Trustees—complimented the quality of submissions. "The essays reflected an exceptionally well-informed student population keenly aware of the challenges facing press freedom in our society today,” he said. 

Omar will be recognized during the November 9 McCarthey Family Foundation Lecture by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian Jon Meacham. Rowland Hall hosts this popular annual event but that doesn’t factor into the contest: judges aren’t told essayists’ names or schools.

Below is Omar’s essay, unedited by Rowland Hall.

Views expressed in the following essay are those of the writer and don't necessarily represent those of Rowland Hall and its employees.


Essay Question for Utah Students in Grades Six Through Eight

“Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.” —Walter Cronkite

In an essay of no more than 500 words, (1) explain the meaning of this quote and (2) provide examples to support your explanation.

Winner

By Omar Alsolaiman, Rowland Hall eighth grader

We inherited our democratic government from people who believed that freedom of the press was valuable enough to be enshrined in the Bill of Rights. The American belief in this right dates all the way back to a time even before America in one of the most famous pre-colonial trials, the Zenger Trial. Peter Zenger, an immigrant in New York, published articles critical of the royal governor William Cosby. Cosby was so angered that he charged Zenger with libel and jailed him, a strategy that backfired when the public supported Zenger. The jury quickly freed him, establishing that in a democratic society, anything that could be proved could be published. 

History proves Walter Cronkite right; freedom of the press came before American democracy. But to truly understand his quote, we need to understand the two main reasons that freedom of the press is so essential to democracy. First, the power of the press can expand democracy. Secondly, democracy is about the ability of communities to make informed decisions according to what they want. Without a free press, the people can be kept in the dark about the issues that affect their communities.

Democracy is about the ability of communities to make informed decisions according to what they want. Without a free press, the people can be kept in the dark about the issues that affect their communities.—Omar Alsolaiman

Throughout American history, the press has been a tool for expanding the ability of people to participate in democracy, allowing the U.S. to become more democratic over time. David Graham Phillips was a muckraker, a term for journalists who exposed problems and advocated for solutions during the early 20th century. In The Treason of the Senate, he exposed the corruption of the United States Senate at the time which eventually led to the Seventeenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, an amendment that established a popular election for senators. In this way, freedom of the press allowed for an expansion of democracy, handing more power to the people. The amendment made corruption more difficult since senators needed to rely on the support of many people, not just a few state legislators. 

It is not only national journalism that matters though. The communities we live in each have their own problems which can’t be solved without exposure through the press. In 2017, Rebecca Liebson, a student reporter at Stony Brook University broke the story that the administration would be cutting their budget, many different departments, and laying off over 20 professors from the school. The campus became outraged by this plan which would not have been exposed without Liebson. The administration attempted to scare her into silence. However, this only proves the power of the press. Stony Brook wanted to preserve its reputation while doing unpopular things, hiding the truth from the people who could punish it by leaving, not donating, or protesting. Democracies only work when people like Liebson do their civic duty to keep people informed about what goes on in their communities. Leaders always prefer their actions happen in the dark so that they can encounter no opposition, but as Justice Brandeis said, “sunlight . . . is the best disinfectant.”


Top photo: From left, seventh grader Aiden Gandhi, eighth grader Omar Alsolaiman, and senior Kajal Ganesh.

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