Student Essay Contest Winners Honored at the State House

On June 4, the winners of the Massachusetts Credit Union 24th Annual Essay Contest for 7th and 8th Grade Students were honored in the Great Hall at the State House.  Sponsored by the Massachusetts Credit Union League and the Massachusetts Credit Union Share Insurance Corporation (MSIC), the event recognizes the efforts of the young people who wrote the winning entries in a statewide essay contest for 7th and 8th graders.

The essays that they wrote were in answer to the question "Pretend you are a credit union volunteer with influence in your city or town. What are three issues in your community that you would like to see change, and how would you go about changing them? This topic gave the students a wide range of possibilities to write about and many thoughtful and imaginative plans were proposed.  The League's chapters and individual credit unions work with schools and teachers to gather essays which are then evaluated by a team of credit union representatives working under the League's CU EFFECT (Credit Unions Enhancing and Fostering Financial Education and Capability Together) umbrella.

The event kicked-off with a welcome from League President Paul Gentile, who then introduced speakers Steven Grossman, Massachusetts State Treasurer, and Mitchell Chester, Massachusetts Commissioner of Education. All three underscored the importance of financial education in the school system, with Gentile highlighting the special and significant role credit unions have always played in this area.

Grossman and Chester both spoke of the importance of implementing financial education as well as preparedness for digital learning in every school in the state. Reflecting on the students' essay question, Treasurer Grossman quoted his grandfather "Max," sharing that one of that gentleman's foundations for a happy life was "volunteerism and supporting the community in which you live." Commissioner Chester praised the essay contest for its ability to blend the "silos of literacy, reading, and writing with math, financial literacy, and civic duty" and as an "exercise that's grounded in the real world - that has relevance."

After the speaking program, students celebrated with their family members, their teachers and principals, and representatives from their sponsoring credit union. They enjoyed a state house tour, catered lunch, and received special citations from Governor Patrick, Treasurer Grossman, their local state representative and senator as well as a plaque and award money from the League and MSIC.

Later in the day, League President Paul Gentile, a former reporter and editor, reflected on the importance of a contest that encourages students to express themselves in writing. He said, "Young people that can write clear and engaging prose have a tremendous advantage when they go on to higher education and then into the workforce. This contest and the recognition that the winners get helps to build some excitement about writing and that will benefit all of the young people who participate."

In their essays the students tackled big problems like pollution, bullying, the isolation
of senior citizens, the condition of the Commonwealth's roadways, and obsolete technology in their schools.  The grand prize winning entry was submitted by Erin Paradis of St. Michael's School in Lowell and who was sponsored by Jeanne D'Arc Credit Union in Lowell.  The three topics she addressed were pollution, texting while driving, and the lack of positive activities for teens. Her idea for addressing the problem of texting while driving called for drivers to "visit with victims who have been hurt in accidents caused by reckless drivers who were texting and driving."

Nearly 1,300 students from across the state submitted essays to their sponsoring credit unions.

The Grand Prize winner Erin Paradis, received a check for $500.

The other winners each received a check for $250 from the sponsoring credit union.  The winners were:

  • Elizabeth Cardelli, from The Southern Massachusetts Credit Union Chapter, sponsored by St. Anne's Credit Union of Fall River, MA
  • Nicole Dean, from Tri-County North Chapter, sponsored by Jeanne D'Arc Credit Union
  • Derek Joyce, from Pioneer Valley Chapter, sponsored by Pioneer Valley Federal Credit Union
  • Sophie Little, from Tri-County North Chapter, sponsored by Woburn Municipal Federal Credit Union
  • Isabella Lourie, from Central Massachusetts Chapter, sponsored by Central One Federal Credit Union
  • Ava Marotta, from Tri-County North Chapter, sponsored by Metro Credit Union
  • Samuel McGown, from Central Massachusetts Chapter, sponsored by Leominster Credit Union

The Massachusetts Credit Union League and MSIC thank all the students, their teachers and their parents and guardians who participated in this year's 7th & 8th Grade Student Essay Contest.