Three Local Students are Winners in Essay Contest

BURLINGTON – August Howe, a junior from Twinfield Union School placed first, Keenan Wallace, a junior from Twinfield Union School placed third, and Alexander Califano a junior at Craftsbury Academy was a third-place finalist in the annual State of the Union Essay Contest for Vermont Students.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on February 2, announced the winners of his thirteenth annual State of the Union Essay Contest, which gives Vermont high school students of all backgrounds an opportunity to address a major issue facing the country and propose solutions. This year, 382 students from 31 Vermont high schools submitted essays. A panel of seven Vermont educators served as volunteer judges, ranking the essays and selecting 12 finalists and three winners.

Since Sanders started the contest, more than 5,700 students throughout Vermont – representing almost every high school in the state – have written essays about critically important issues, including climate change, access to mental health care, political polarization, gun safety, disability rights, racial justice, and more.

Sanders has invited the finalists to join him for a roundtable discussion, which will be held at the Vermont State House on Saturday, Feb. 11. Sanders will also enter the finalists’ essays into the Congressional Record, the official archive of the U.S. Congress. The contest is timed to coincide with the President’s annual address to a joint session of Congress, which took place on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

August Howe, from Twinfield Union School, won first-place with an essay on misinformation: “Social media platforms are essentially news sources at this point, yet they are not held to the same legal standards. News sources are liable for the content they release, social media platforms, however, are exempt from such liability by Section 230…Originally created to protect internet user’s speech, Section 230 now enables people to exercise their freedom of speech and introduce mis- and disinformation into the media stream without consequence. Equally as important as holding companies accountable is encouraging the education of the general public on media literacy and critical thinking skills to identify misinformation and fake news.”

Keenan Wallace, the third-place winner from Twinfield Union School, wrote about unions and labor rights: “Recently there has been a slew of confrontations between workers and corporations, from Starbucks and Amazon to the threatened rail strikes earlier this year, 2022 has been tumultuous… The framework for the solution is already in place. The NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) is an agency that was created to enforce the NLRA (National Labor Rights Act). This agency is responsible for helping organize unions and they step in when corporations violate the NLRA…Increasing funding for the NLRB is a simple, low cost solution to a problem that has plagued the American working class for decades. A stronger NLRB would not only be a boon for workers, but also a valuable tool for the government to check the ever increasing power that corporations hold over our democracy.”

To learn more about opportunities for Vermont students through Senator Sanders’ office, visit

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