Eighth grade essay winners – Hope for the Future in Study of the Past

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Each year for the last eight years, the Lemon Grove Historical Society honors America’s past — and future — with the Bobby Carroll Eighth Grade Essay Competition, open to students in the Lemon Grove School District. The Mary England Endowment for Education gives the competition and awards, in honor of England’s late son, Carroll, for whom the essay competition is named. This year, the awards ceremony was held on June 10th during the School Board meeting at the Lemon Grove Library. 

Each year for the last eight years, the Lemon Grove Historical Society honors America’s past — and future — with the Bobby Carroll Eighth Grade Essay Competition, open to students in the Lemon Grove School District. The Mary England Endowment for Education gives the competition and awards, in honor of England’s late son, Carroll, for whom the essay competition is named. This year, the awards ceremony was held on June 10th during the School Board meeting at the Lemon Grove Library. 

The essay topic for this year was nothing easy, requiring students to not only favor either Thomas Jefferson or Alexander Hamilton in their view of the early American republic, but to provide solid reasons why they supported one position over the other. 

All three (former) eighth graders distinguished in the competition were students at Vista La Mesa Academy. First prizewinner Xochitl Ramos and second-prize winner Ruben Preciado backed Jefferson’s ideas on government. Preciado was not present (baseball in June requires a player be present, even academic award winners). Third prizewinner Devin Chitamnath argued in favor of Hamilton. 

“I looked at Hamilton’s point of views on government, and the fact that he wanted the economy to be balanced between agriculture and manufacturing. Much of our economy today is made up of manufacturing and agriculture,” he said.

Chitamnath will be starting high school in Japan, where he is moving in September.

Ramos graduated Vista La Mesa this year as Valedictorian.

“I feel that Jefferson had the basis of what this country was founded on; liberty and freedom. Freedom of expression, of course. I’ve seen how government has been slowly been taking that away and Jefferson had a very strong opinion on keeping that basis, it’s what our country is all about,” said Ramos, who, has sights set on college already.

Business is her ultimate goal. She wants to “create organizations that help students in low income areas achieve higher goals in their lives.” Her endeavors begin at Helix high school in the fall.

“God willing, I’ll attend Stanford University,” she said before leaving the awards ceremony to go home and write her Valedictorian speech for her middle school graduation. 

With two schools in La Mesa, the Lemon Grove School District covers a lot of ground. Education is a cause dear to England, who came to the awards ceremony straight from a city council meeting. A council member for twelve years, England has belonged to, served for, and been involved with numerous East County organizations with similar educational priorities. “Being a council member and now CEO of the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce since 2008, if we don’t educate these children—they’re our future leaders, I want them educated,” said England. “This is where it starts.” 

England was also president of the Lemon Grove Education Foundation, where there is a Perpetuity scholarship program through which a person of any age can receive scholarship money for education.

“I love the children but my goal with the Foundation was to have a mother, a woman or a man at 45 be able to apply for a scholarship. I want it [education] cradle to grave,” England said. “You give them the wings and you let them fly.”

Eighth grade may not exactly be the cradle, but the year before high school was a turning point for the three young adults who proved how well they were prepared for the future based on their sharp analysis of the past.

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