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Nathan Zhao wins Freedom Prize Essay Contest

+Last+May%2C+sophomore+Nathan+Zhao+won+the+Freedom+Prize%2C+an+award+that+is+given+to+a+Wayland+High+School+student+for+writing+the+best+essay+on+a+topic+related+to+freedom.+%E2%80%9CMy+essay+was+about+voter+ID+laws%2C+and+I+wanted+to+prove+that+voter+ID+laws+affected+the+election+and+changed+the+outcome%2C%E2%80%9D+Zhao+said.%0A
 Last May, sophomore Nathan Zhao won the Freedom Prize, an award that is given to a Wayland High School student for writing the best essay on a topic related to freedom. “My essay was about voter ID laws, and I wanted to prove that voter ID laws affected the election and changed the outcome,” Zhao said.

Last May, sophomore Nathan Zhao won the Freedom Prize, an award that is given to a Wayland High School student for writing the best essay on a topic related to freedom. “My essay was about voter ID laws, and I wanted to prove that voter ID laws affected the election and changed the outcome,” Zhao said.

Last May, sophomore Nathan Zhao won the Freedom Prize, an award that is given to a Wayland High School student for writing the best essay on a topic related to freedom. “My essay was about voter ID laws, and I wanted to prove that voter ID laws affected the election and changed the outcome,” Zhao said.

Andrew D'Amico

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Recently, the twelfth annual Freedom Prize was awarded to sophomore Nathan Zhao by the Wayland Veterans Memorial. Each year, students of Wayland High School write essays relating to freedom in our world today. For the last twelve years, these essays have been submitted to the Wayland Veterans Memorial to be judged.

The Wayland Veterans Memorial honors Wayland residents who have served in the military and seeks to help people better appreciate their freedom.

After thoughtful pondering over the essays, the judges select a winner who receives the prestigious honor of winning the contest as well as a cash prize of $500.

Zhao received the award at Lakeview Cemetery on May 29. Zhao chose to write about the constitutionality of voter ID laws, which he believes to be “unconstitutional under the fourteenth amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”

“Dr. Halpin gave us a sheet of recommended topics and voter ID laws really stood out to me because it had to do with the past election,” Zhao said. “It was a very contentious issue surrounding the election.”

When it came to writing the paper, it took Zhao about two weeks to write the first draft, and then another week to complete revisions. The 11-page essay extensively defends Zhao’s thesis.

Although he ultimately won the contest, Zhao’s writing process did not come without challenges.

“The most challenging aspect of writing the paper was finding a way to prove my point,” Zhao said. “My essay was about voter ID laws, and I wanted to prove that voter ID laws affected the election and changed the outcome. That was difficult to do because there wasn’t much evidence out there. I had to search for different types of evidence and put them all together in order to prove one greater point. Formulating that was the hard part. Writing it up was easier.”

The Public Ceremonies Committee (PCC) organizes public events such as the Memorial Day Parade. The PCC stated that “selection of the winning essay was not immediately obvious, as the judges carefully deliberated over essays on migration, the travel ban, fake news and more.”

Zhao emphasized that history teacher Dr. Patricia Halpin played a major role in the shaping of his paper.

“Dr. Halpin helped me a lot,” Zhao said. “She gave very extensive revisions on my drafts and commented on areas of the paper that I could improve on. One problem that I had was the length of my paper. After she handed back my paper and told me that I was a finalist, I went back and conferenced with her to cut down the length and make more edits. She helped me a lot throughout the entire process and I probably would not have been a finalist or won if it wasn’t for her.”

The goal of the Freedom Prize essays are to “engage future generations,” and that is exactly what Zhao hopes to do regarding voter ID laws in the United States.

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Nathan Zhao wins Freedom Prize Essay Contest