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Finding Inspiration in 2022 Essay Winners

  • April 7, 2022

Finding inspiration has been so important these past two years. Because of a generous donor, ADL is grateful to keep offering educators and students the opportunity to search for inspiration through our 2022 student essay winners of ADL’s A Tribute to Moral Courage: Standing Up Against Injustice, in which students discovered personal connections, new perspectives from history and current events and motivation to inspire their own actions and their own causes to fight the good fight.

Close to 200 essays were submitted from Colorado and New Mexico for our annual essay contest, which asks students to research those that have not only given us hope but those that have shown moral courage, whether in the past or present.  This year, in all the essays submitted, students wrote about those in their own family stories, those from the past such as Harriet Tubman, Jesus, and Oskar Schindler, and those that inspire today such as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Their reflections on these ordinary people who chose extraordinary actions are critical because it demonstrates how the issues of today impact our youth. The winning essays tackled issues of mental health, immigration, education, racism and transgender rights, highlighting Cesar Chavez, Marsha P. Johnson, Colin Kaepernik, Imani McGee-Stafford, Malala Yousafzai, and Scott Warren with the organization No Mas Muertes.  Each writer found a connection between themselves and these morally courageous individuals and we hope they will continue to find ways to pass it forward and inspire others.  

Fifteen judges narrowed down the essays after multiple reads of each essay and the six essays below rose to the top. ADL will recognize these student winners during ADL’s 41st Governor’s Holocaust Remembrance Program, held virtually on April 28, 2022 at 5:30pm MST. Register here for the event:  

Thank you to all the educators, students and their families for submitting essays and taking the time to elevate moral courage and hope.  We are lucky to have so many educators that participate year after year, offering this essay prompt as a class assignment. One educator shared why she uses it:

“I appreciate the opportunity this contest provides for my students to read and learn about a person meaningful to them who dared to stand up for a belief or value and consequently impacted society. I especially appreciate the personal reflection piece that asks my students to internalize what they have learned and then develop their own doable, meaningful action plan so they, themselves,  stand up for their values and do their part in promoting a just, accepting society.” – Liz Peele, Teacher

CONGRATULATIONS to our 2022 Student Essay Winners!! 

Division I – 7-9th Grade Winners 

First Place:  Sailor D-K.

Holy Family Catholic School, Grand Junction, CO 

Essay Title: Uncomfortable

Second Place:  Emily H.

Holy Family Catholic School, Grand Junction, CO 

Essay Title: Screaming in Silence

TIE – Third Place:  Kalem P. 

Eagleview Middle School, Colorado Springs, CO 

Essay Title: Harvesting Courage 

TIE – Third Place:  Riley W. 

St. Thomas More Catholic School, Centennial, CO 

Essay Title: Malala Yousafzai: The Girl Who Influenced Thousands by Standing Up for Education


Division II – 10-12th Grade Winners 

First Place:  Danielle M.

Platte Canyon High School, Bailey, CO 

Essay Title: A Heart of Stone

Second Place: Kimberly O. 

Monte del Sol Charter School, Sante Fe, NM

Essay Title: Daylight