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Coronado High School students view education as 'Key to a Good Life'


Scottsdale Unified School District Superintendent of Schools and Scottsdale Rotary Club Honorary Member Dr. Scott Menzel announced the winners of the third Interact Club of Coronado High School and Rotary Club of Scottsdale essay contest on Tuesday, January 16, 2024. 


This year’s theme was “What Education Means to Me.” 


Fifty-four high school students shared their points of view on the value of education to them. This topic is especially important due to lower nationwide student performances over the past five years and the drop in regular student attendance in schools.


Initial judging of the essays was conducted by members of the Rotary Club of Scottsdale. They selected the 11 essays as the finalist for the contest. This topic on education was selected because it is one of Rotary’s areas of focus on around the world. Distinguished leaders in Scottsdale and authors with known reputations made the final selection of this year’s winners.


The students recognized by Dr. Menzel were Joel Garcia, first place; Julissa Luviano Olivares, second place; Brandon Sola, third place. Honorable mention awards were presented to Lilliana Minor, Emili Gonzalez Cabrera, and Nicole Galvan Ayon. Award winners each received a gift card from the Scottsdale Rotary Club Foundation


In addition, Dr. Menzel provided certificates of recognition to the other five finalists: Leslie Castrejon-Bahena, Kailyn Holsey, Angel Castanda, Kimberly Lopez Carranza, and Emmanuel Silva Orozco.


The students, through their essays, affirmed their beliefs that an education is important for a good life. In doing so, students identified many forms of education that have been valuable to them.


One author describes how her high school teachers provided support and encouragement. It was her high school teachers who transformed her opinion that "education was my enemy" in her early school years, to educational success and a positive attitude about herself in high school.


Another student discovered that vocational education was of immediate value to her and plans for continued education in a trade school degree followed by university studies to further assure her future successes. 


A third author attributes his family with the most important education he has received so far. It has been his family that instilled motivation, moral values, and ethics in him.


Family had a different educational influence in another essay. This author was unmotivated and unenthusiastic. It was her family that encouraged her to do better than they and to become the first in her family to achieve a high school diploma.


A counselor is the focus of another student. It was his counselor who introduced him to a website on career opportunities available for young people’s future. His resulting career choice has motivated him to pursue education towards that end.


Two students noted the ability of people to educate themselves was the most valuable trait humans possess. One is always “having her head in books.” Through reading, she learned “lessons woven within the splashes of ink that really mattered.” 


Another noted that during COVID, she decided to self-educate herself on nutrition. This motivated her to enthusiastically pursue her education in a related field. 


Finally, one author summarizes the importance of education by noting that ever since his “first steps in the preschool classroom, education has given me opportunities to meet friends, gain valuable skills, and have the chance to discover what I like and don’t like.”


Also participating in the award ceremony were Coronado Principal Amy Palatucci, Scottsdale Rotary Club President Gretchen Kinder, Rotarian Vibha Pradhan, English Teacher Dr. Jo Markette, and Interact Club Teacher Sponsor Serenity Ruiz.


Essay Program Chair and Rotarian Max Rumbaugh, noted that, “Many students (and parents) are struggling with a lack of understanding of the value of education. These essays provide examples of broad educational sources, personal insights, and peer expressions of the value of education for a better life.”