WESTPORT, Conn. -- Three Staples High School students are winners in the TEAM Westport's Teen Diversity Essay Contest.
The contest was open to all high school students who are residents of Westport or attend school in Westport. It asked teens to reflect on the impact of changes in U.S. demographics with the expectation that racial and ethnic groups that are currently in the minority will collectively outnumber whites within 30 years, according to a press release.
Megan Root, a junior at Staples High School, won first prize in the contest with her essay “Diversity: the Maestro of Innovation.”
“I think Staples’ classes present a lot of the right questions, but the dearth of diversity means there are perspectives I’ve never heard,” Root said in the essay. “I don’t think I can really complete an education in life until I join bigger, more varied conversations. America’s diversity means access to cultures and traditions and ideas from every corner of the globe."
The second prize winner was Eliza Llewellyn, the Staples senior and the valedictorian of her class. Her essay is titled “No Longer 91 Percent.”
Llewellyn said she grew up in a “family whose ancestry was flanked by dragons: the crimson Welsh ddraig goch and the scaly Chinese long,” according to the release.
Llewellyn reflected on her experience in Westport and "how differences are sometimes regarded negatively."
“Beyond economic strength, a mix of ethnicities will make us more tolerant and empathetic towards others. Rather than recoiling from a gay couple or crossing to the other side of a street from a black man in a hoodie, we can learn to see these individuals as people rather than a blanketed ‘other’,” she wrote.
The third prize essayist was Kyle Baer, a junior at Staples. He entitled his essay, “Westport: A Bubble Refuses to Pop.”
“This racial inequality sets Westport back from the rest of the nation in terms of its cultural richness," he wrote. “To be stuck in an upper-class, all-white town in the coming years will be a significant disadvantage to students. We have little choice but to evolve, or risk losing our appeal as a family-friendly town. Yet the path on which Westport is headed shows, as of yet, no signs of diverging.”
The three prize winners read their essays on Monday, March 31, at the Awards Ceremony in the Westport Library's McManus Room. The contest was co-sponsored by TEAM Westport and the Westport Library.