EDITORIAL: Essay awards showcase students’ awareness  



These kids today, they’re amazing. That’s certainly true when it comes to two students from area towns who recently won top honors — and significant money — in the Dream Big! competition.

The Connecticut Higher Education Trust, known as CHET, sponsors Dream Big! Connecticut students in kindergarten through 12th grade can participate by submitting drawings, short essays or videos that answer a question posed to their grade level group. Winners are selected by a panel of judges who look at the creativity, ability to express inspiration and relevance to the entry theme.

CHET is a college savings plan, managed through Fidelity Investments. Families and friends can save for education costs by contributing to a child’s account online, according to a Record-Journal story on the CHET awards by reporter Jessica Simms.  

The CHET Dream Big! Competition started in 2013 and has awarded over $4.5 million to Connecticut students over the past decade. 

In the recent competition, Wallingford resident and Mercy High School junior Maya DelGreco, 16, won for her essay on how the school system can better support students’ mental health. As the grand prize winner for grades 9-12, DelGreco was awarded $25,000.

“It’s personal for me and I know it affects a lot of kids at my school and everyone that I know pretty much,” DelGreco said. Her essay suggested more resources for mental health at schools and advocating to the Board of Education to take action. 

Sofia Valentina Ruiz, 13, an eighth grader at Middle School of Plainville, was the grand prize winner for grades five through eight, also winning $25,000 that she’ll use toward her college education.

Ruiz wrote about improving her community by getting Hispanic voices heard. She suggested an assembly or speech on racism and equality.

It is impressive, that DelGreco and Ruiz won these awards. In Simms’ story, we hear of the family support given to these girls and their goals, and that’s an important point.  

All the students who participated can be proud of themselves as well. CHET deserves a shout out, too, for this significant awards program nurturing students’ awareness of the world around them.

These thoughtful essays are a good reminder that there are many perceptive young people, in our communities today, preparing themselves to be the problem-solvers we need.



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