By Sierra Smith, Communications Specialist
Who is your civic hero?
That was the question the nonpartisan, nonprofit Kidizenship
posed to tweens and teens across the country in its Write Your Hero contest. The organization, which focuses on merging civics education with creative self-expression and community action, encouraged young writers throughout the nation to submit stories about their heroes for a chance to win cash prizes provided by Vanderbilt University.
Essays were judged by a panel that Kidizenship described as civic all-stars: 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang, Harvard professor and historian Jill Lepore, former Congresswoman Susan Molinari, and actor and film producer Erika Alexander.
Fifth grader Lydia Kim won second place.
“At first, I really didn’t believe I won, but once I got used to it, I was really excited,” Lydia said.
Korean independence activist and organizer Yu Gwan Sun was the subject of Lydia’s essay
“My essay was about someone who did a lot of great things when she was really young, so I hope that if anyone reads it, it makes them realize that even if they’re young, they can do good things, too,” Lydia shared.
Julia Taylor ’27 placed third for her essay on John Krasinski
’s inspiring use of his celebrity to spread positive news during the pandemic.
"I hope others know that heroes can be found anywhere, especially during this rough time for our world. It could be your neighbor, or your uncle, just know that if you look, you’ll always find them," Julia said.
Kidizenship Founder Amanda Little, also a USN parent and Vanderbilt professor, spoke with interested MS students on Zoom during their recess to answer questions about the program and contest.
“There was a loy of competition — so many great pieces were submitted from all over the country — and the judges were impressed and inspired by their work,” she said.
Sixth grader Ashaay Patel placed 10th in the contest, also.
“It was so impressive to see our kids’ work,” Sixth Grade English Teacher Katie Sandidge said. “What I loved most about their responses is that they were voluntary and that the students chose people we’ve never talked about at school.”