Forest Hills Eastern student takes top honors in Ford essay contest

City High Middle students earn honorable mentions

First-place winner Isabel Gil (second from left), from Forest Hills Eastern High School, poses with her family including her brother, about whom her essay was written (Courtesy)

A Forest Hills Eastern student was the first-place winner in this year’s President Gerald R. Ford Student Writing Challenge.

Isabel Gil, who will be entering her senior year at Forest Hills Eastern High School in the fall, was notified of her win when organizers visited her home. Gil was awarded up to $1,000 based on the final score of her essay. Along with the student cash awards, the teachers of the top three students received gift cards of up to $500 for use in their classrooms. 

Nina Lu (right) from City High Middle School, pictured with her mom, received Honorable Mention, Top Ten Finalist Award (Courtesy)

Receiving honorable mentions as top 10 finalists in the annual essay content were Nina Lu and Ethan Magley, both 2020 graduates from Grand Rapids City High Middle School. 

Each year, high school students are invited to compete for awards offered by the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation by participating in the Student Writing Challenge. Students who competed in the competition were asked to write 500 to 750 words about determination, a character trait that the 38th president is often characterized as exemplifying.

“The students wrote essays focusing on the determination they see not only in historical figures, but in their families, their friends, and themselves,” said Clare Shubert, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation director of engagement and programming. “Our judges were impressed with the caliber of their writing as well as the many inspiring stories they shared.”

In lieu of the awards ceremony traditionally held at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, awards were presented to students individually at their homes while observing social distancing guidelines. 

Those honored (in alphabetical order) include:

  • Harlie Choponis, Hart High School 
  • Isabel Gil, Forest Hills Eastern High School
  • Megan Grant, Newaygo High School 
  • Jada Hall, St. Georges Technical High School 
  • Nina Lu, City High Middle School
  • Ethan Magley, City High Middle School    
  • Carter Meyer, Grand Rapids Christian High School
  • Kandace Pewee, Grand Rapids Christian High School 
  • Melanie TenElshof, Plymouth Christian High School
  • Lillian Van Gelderen, Hart High School
  • Sabra Wolven, Newaygo High School
Ethan Magley from City High Middle School received Honorable Mention, Top Ten Finalist Award from Clare Shubert of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation. At left is City High Principal Ryan Huppert (Courtesy)
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