Halstrom Blog Post

Essay Contest: Bold Statements on Hot Topics

Jacqueline Gilleland - How our students look deeper Logan Hoover - How our students look deeper

Essay contests are a time-honored tradition created to encourage critical thinking. For the last four years, Halstrom has given its students an opportunity to look a little deeper and think a little harder. From technology to dinner parties, the essay contest topics have run the gamut. But no matter what, they afford a fun chance for Halstrom students to earn some prizes while flexing their writing and analysis muscles.

This year’s topics were thought provoking, to say the least. Students were asked to consider their place within our current social space, specifically focusing on how social media has penetrated our every day lives. Because of the many ways we receive information these days, it can be easy to blindly follow our peer groups. The students that participated rose brilliantly out of their comfort zones and made bold statements about where they stand on the issues, ranging from Colin Kaepernick’s protest to their values and beliefs on the myriad of social outlets inundating their lives.

Jacqueline Gilleland, the second place high school winner from our Newport Beach campus, and Serafina Clark, the middle school second place winner from our Cupertino campus, both wrote well-researched essays with opposing viewpoints on San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick’s protest. Logan Hoover from our Cupertino was the first place winner for the middle school students. His essay on how he would like society to place more value in kindness and loyalty was impassioned and offered an encouraging look at the mind of a Halstrom student. And Madison Semler from our Westlake Village campus, the first place winner for high school students, wrote a very personal essay that highlighted the many valuable ways social media is contributing to the world by giving everyone the opportunity to have a voice.

While the topics were different, they all encouraged the students to explore their values in conjunction with the world. And if school isn’t a place to safely delve into those complexities, where is?


Tai Farnsworth, Halstrom Academy- Brentwood

Tai Farnsworth, Halstrom Academy- Brentwood, Campus Operations Coordinator, has a short story published in the fifteenth edition of "The Quotable," as well as two interviews in the literary journal Lunch Ticket. In 2015, she earned her MFA in Writing for Young People from Antioch University. Tai lives in Los Angeles with her partner, her cat, and too many mason jars. She's currently shopping around her novel.