LWV announces winners of 2021 Essay Contest and “Civics in Action” awards

The League of Women Voters Piedmont is pleased to announce PHS students Andre Stankiewicz and Audrey Edel as winners of its Essay Contest and Civics in Action awards. Both awards aim to encourage engagement in politics and civic affairs for young people.

Essay Contest

Andre Stankiewicz
Andre Stankiewicz, PHS Junior

This is the second year the League has held the essay contest, open to all high school juniors and seniors who are residents of Piedmont or are currently enrolled in Piedmont High School or Millennium High School.

Students responded to the question: “Given the fragility of democracy as evidenced by the insurrection of January 6, 2021, how can your generation work to ensure that democracy in the United States is strengthened for future generations?”

PHS junior Andre Stankiewicz won the award for his thoughtful essay “We Are Not Too Young to Begin Now.”

“Solving the issue of polarization requires a societal shift in how we interact with one another and how we form our own beliefs. School is the perfect medium to mitigate the hostility caused by differences of political opinion that led to violence. Class and group discussions should reinforce open-mindedness and respect. The distinction between having respect for expressing one’s opinion without necessarily agreeing with the said opinion cannot be overstated. Common ground can always be found and students need educators and community support to make sure that these skills are practiced in the classroom as often as possible. Piedmont is not immune; a majority liberal community where I have observed many students reluctant, even unwilling, to hear different points of view. What my generation can do is to engage in discussions to learn and understand rather than debate and score points, striving to find common ground and collaborative solutions ….

The events of January 6th are a warning to my generation, but with an improved culture of civic participation and productive discourse, encompassing respect and critical thinking, we can strengthen the bonds of democracy for future generations.

Excerpt from Andre Stankiewicz’ winning essay “We Are Not Too Young to Begin Now”

Read Stankeiwicz’ full essay HERE.

Members of the League Board were delighted to host Andre at the yearly changeover meeting in May, where he spoke briefly and read his essay.

Civics in Action Award

Audrey Edel

The Civics in Action award was presented this year to Audrey Edel, PHS Senior, by social studies teacher Hillary Freeman at the Senior awards ceremonies. Ms. Freeman enumerated the many ways Edel has been a leader in student life and in the community.

Active in multiple campus clubs, she also worked as a reporter for the Piedmont Post for five years, is active in Drama, and is Senior Class President. As the pandemic began last year, Edel helped to create a virtual mentoring program known as Kindness Coaches, where high school students mentored elementary school children, providing academic and emotional support. The program now has over 200 participants.

Lastly, Edel was one of three students who began the Teens4Biden club to get students educated and involved in the election. They then expanded to the broader Bay Area community with a large educational event with over 80 attendees. Edel has embodied the League’s primary tenet of civic engagement.

On behalf of the League of Women Voters of Piedmont, warmest congratulations to Stankiewicz and Edel.

Both winners will receive a $500 award from LWVP.

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