LTS senior takes third in State of the Union essay contest

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DORSET — Maya Marcy, an incoming senior at Long Trail School finished third in the 10th annual State of the Union Essay contest held annually by Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Marcy's essay, one of 536 essays submitted by students from 41 Vermont high schools, addressed the cost of college and the challenges students of low and moderate means face in affording a higher education.

The essay contest gives Vermont high school students a chance to "describe which issues they would prioritize if they were president."

Over the past decade, more than 4,600 students representing almost every high school in Vermont have participated. A panel of six Vermont teachers judged the contest.

Isabelle Hiller, an incoming senior at Woodstock Union High School, won this year's contest with an essay about the criminal justice system.

Lucas Whitaker, an incoming junior at Hazen Union High School, finished second with his essay about youth suicide and mental health care access.

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Marcy's essay points out that an affordable college education isn't available to all students.

"Accessibility to attend a post-high school institution continues to prove difficult for not only marginalized groups, but also students coming from the middle class," Marcy wrote. "This difficulty arises from the injustice embedded within the education system, a lack of government responsibility, and the senseless and excessive cost attributed to college in the present day."

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She pointed out that the increasing cost of education has resulted in $1.5 trillion in student debt affecting 40 million Americans.

One answer to an affordable college education, Marcy writes, can be found in the defense budget.

"With a little over 10 percent of the entirety of the military spending budget — approximately $80 billion — the United States could cover the cost of public four-year college education for every aspiring student in the country," Marcy wrote. "Putting this plan into action would provide an opportunity for millions of deserving, hardworking students."

Sanders said the students write about the issues that affect their lives.

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"I'm thrilled students from all across Vermont participated in this year's essay contest," said Sanders, who serves on the Senate education committee. "Over the past 10 years students have written about issues that are not only affecting their lives, but our communities, our country and our planet. I created this contest not as a homework assignment, but because we need our students to help find solutions for the problems that face our country as they are our future leaders."

On June 10, Sanders read Marcy's essay and those of the other top three finishers, into the Congressional Record — the official archive of the U.S. Congress.

Sanders said that over the 10 years he's held the essay contest, many of the same topics continue to be topics.

"Unfortunately, I'm not surprised that year after year many of the students are writing about the same major issues," Sanders said. "This contest reminds us that we have a lot of work to do — however, it is heartening to know that so many young people are thinking about the issues, standing up and making their voices heard and engaging in the political process."

Marcy is the daughter of Lori Moro and Darren Marcy, both of Rutland Town.


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