Two Sophomores Pen Top Essays
Huntington High School sophomores Catherine Koumas and Justin Engelsher are exceptional writers. The pair crafted to of the top essays entered in a competition organized by the Japan Center at Stony Brook University.
Sponsored by Canon USA, the essay contest drew 260 entries from 46 high schools and five colleges. Ms. Koumas was one of 15 participants selected as a finalist. Mr. Engelsher was among 15 semi-finalists in the contest. The teenagers are students in Huntington social studies teacher Camille Tedeschi's Advanced Placement World History course.
The goal of the writing competition "is to promote awareness and understanding of Japan in the United States and to help young Americans broaden their international horizons," according to the Japan Center's webpage.
"Contestants should discuss one or more aspects of Japan, including its arts, cultures, traditions, values, philosophy, history, society, politics, business and technology in relation to their personal views, experiences, and/or future goals," according to the contest's rules.
Ms. Tedeschi's AP World History students enter two essay contests during the first semester: The Japan Center competition and a second one sponsored by the US Institute of Peace.
The Japan Center's contest dates to 2005. Ms. Tedeschi's classes have been competing in it for the past four years. At least one Huntington student has earned honors in each of the years.
Ms. Koumas and Mr. Engelsher are among the top scholars in the Class of 2014. "These are two amazing students," Ms. Tedeschi said. "I've had the honor of being their teacher for two years and have been fortunate to get to know them so well."
Ms. Koumas submitted an essay centered on the Japanese tea ceremony while Mr. Engelsher's was focused on the exceedingly popular Zatoichi film series. Justin and Catherine are creative, analytical and intrinsically motivated to work hard and be successful in our class, as well as their other classes," Ms. Tedeschi said.
Ms. Tedeschi has spent time in Japan, traveling and living with families. She hopes her students will eventually have the same opportunity. "Traveling is an experience of a lifetime," the teacher said. "I have always loved to learn and go to school, but I think I learn the most when I am abroad and experiencing new cultures firsthand."
After learning of the fine performance by Ms. Tedeschi's students in the Japan Center contest, Huntington High School Principal Carmela Leonardi congratulated the teacher. "Your love for the Japanese history and culture are an inspiration to your students," Dr. Leonardi said.