Los Alamos High School junior, Nina Nzekwe, won first place for Week 8 of the New York Times Summer Reading Contest. Read her essay here.
Each week in the summer, thousands of students respond to current event op-ed articles released by the New York Times as part of their Summer Reading Contest.
Nina wrote her essay in response to an op-ed by Jennifer Weiner titled “Why America Needs a Royal Family.” In the original article, Jennifer suggests that America is in need of a separately elected “royal family” to perform ceremonial tasks while “real” politicians govern and get the work done. Nina disagrees, saying that a “mascot” is not what America needs and proffers her own suggestion: “to separate the ribbon-cutting and the baby-kissing from politics and remove them entirely.”
Language Arts has always been one of Nina’s favorite subjects in school, so it was encouraging to have her writing appreciated. Nina said, “Seeing my writing win this contest has boosted my confidence in my abilities and has motivated me to continue writing.”
This is the third year that LAHS teachers Christine Engelbrecht and Margo Batha have used the New York Times Summer Reading Contest as part of their AP Language and Composition summer assignment.
A panel of New York Times judges chooses one winner, about 12 runner-ups, and about 15 honorable mentions per week. “We have had several students among the runner ups and honorable mentions in previous years, but we have never had students win the entire contest, let alone two in one summer,” said Engelbrecht. In addition to Nina Nzekwe, these LAHS students were chosen for awards in the past:
- Elizabeth Frost’s summer reading response won in week seven of the contest in August 2020. Elizabeth is a current LAHS junior bound for graduation in May 2022.
- Shena Han’s summer reading response was awarded runner up in the summer of 2019. Shena is a current LAHS senior bound for graduation in May 2021.
- Andrew West’s summer reading response was awarded honorable mention in the summer of 2019. Andrew is a current LAHS senior bound for graduation in May 2021.
- Amaya Coblentz’s summer reading response was awarded honorable mention in the summer of 2018. Amaya graduated from LAHS in May 2020.
- Sruthi Garimella’s summer reading response was awarded honorable mention in the summer of 2018. Sruthi graduated from LAHS in May 2020.
“It takes guts to put your ideas and arguments out there to be published for the world to see,” said Engelbrecht. “We are proud of all of our students for rising to the challenge of writing for an authentic occasion and target audience while exercising their own voices.”