Freshman Lizzy Francis selected as finalist in essay contest

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Freshman Lizzy Francis selected as finalist in essay contest

Freshman Lizzy Francis has been selected as a finalist in the Facing History Together student essay contest. “Honestly I didn’t really have any planning process. There was just a blank page in front of me and all of a sudden I just started to write,” Francis said. “I knew the essay had to be about my heritage so I started off with talking about my parents and went from there.”

Freshman Lizzy Francis has been selected as a finalist in the Facing History Together student essay contest. “Honestly I didn’t really have any planning process. There was just a blank page in front of me and all of a sudden I just started to write,” Francis said. “I knew the essay had to be about my heritage so I started off with talking about my parents and went from there.”

Freshman Lizzy Francis has been selected as a finalist in the Facing History Together student essay contest. “Honestly I didn’t really have any planning process. There was just a blank page in front of me and all of a sudden I just started to write,” Francis said. “I knew the essay had to be about my heritage so I started off with talking about my parents and went from there.”

Freshman Lizzy Francis has been selected as a finalist in the Facing History Together student essay contest. “Honestly I didn’t really have any planning process. There was just a blank page in front of me and all of a sudden I just started to write,” Francis said. “I knew the essay had to be about my heritage so I started off with talking about my parents and went from there.”

Janani Gandhi and Naomi Lathan

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Freshman Lizzy Francis has been selected as a finalist in the Facing History Together student essay contest. Margaret Stoll, the honorary judge in the competition, selected Francis’ essay about her experience in Wayland.

The prompt for the paper was inspired by Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” one of the books read in freshman English classes. The main characters, Scout and Jem Finch both “struggle to define their identities in relationship to the values of their small, segregated Southern towns.”

There are various prizes awarded to participants. Five $500 Upstander Awards will be given to students in 7th to 12th grade, and the Benjamin B. Ferencz Upstander Scholarship will be awarded to graduating seniors. The Harper Lee Memorial Award & $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to one student.

Above is Francis, who is a finalist for the Facing History Together student essay contest

Credit: Courtesy of Lizzy Francis
Above is Francis, who is a finalist for the Facing History Together student essay contest

The prompt is “How has the community you’ve grown up in influenced the person you are today? Has there been a moment when your sense of self has come into conflict with the norms in your community?”

Francis chose to write about her experience growing up as a minority in Wayland. She believes that growing up Indian in a predominantly white community shaped who she is today. Francis thinks that racism is a topic that should be discussed more at Wayland.

Francis heard about the competition only two days before the submissions were supposed to be entered. The experience was rushed, and she had little help from her English teacher and other adults.

“Honestly I didn’t really have any planning process. There was just a blank page in front of me and all of a sudden I just started to write,” Francis said. “I knew the essay had to be about my heritage so I started off with talking about my parents and went from there.”

Afterward, she conferenced with her English teacher Barbara Shellito and made edits accordingly.

“I did not think that I would get chosen. At first I thought it was just spam or something, just part of the email, but then as I read it and she responded back and forth to me, I got more excited over time,” Francis said.

The essay had a limit of 500 words and was open to residents of the U.S. aged 13 and up. Voting has closed and the winners will be announced on May 2.

“Racism at Wayland is not something that most people would be expecting to be happening, but unfortunately it happens all the time. I think it’s something that students should be more aware of,” Francis said.

She hopes that her essay will spark some change in Wayland. You can read it here.

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