City of Surprise and El Mirage Award Student Essay Winners
In partnership with the City of Surprise and the City of El Mirage, students across the Dysart Unified School District were invited to participate in the My El Mirage and My Surprise Essay Contests in November of 2022. Prompts were developed in partnership with each city to elicit responses that spoke about each city’s mission or vision.
More than 200 students in grades 3-12 submitted their essays with schools choosing the top 128 district-wide. The writings were evaluated based on understanding of city services/amenities, creativity, clarity, sincerity of thought, and proper grammar.
Winners from Surprise were selected in specific grade bands and were honored March 7 at the Surprise City Council meeting including: Cadence Fumia and Rose Vasquez from Countryside Elementary in the grade 3-4 division, Tatianna Pellegrino from Freedom Traditional School for 5-8th grade and Kaleb Delgado from Shadow Ridge High School who won for the high school division.
Excerpts included below.
Cadence Fumia encourages people to live in Surprise: “My name is Cadence and I live in Surprise, Arizona. If you don’t, what the heck are you waiting for?”
Rose Vasquez expresses how she feels living in Surprise: “I am really happy I moved here because I have my family, a great school that I really like. I have some new friends, and it’s really clean, safe, and friendly.”
Tatianna Pellegrino shares this insight about Surprise: “Danish architect and urban design consultant, Jan Gehl once said, ‘A good city is like a good party–you stay for longer than you plan.’ Surprise isn’t just a good party; it's a great party.”
Kaleb Delgado says: “[Surprise] carries nothing by surprises, and as a resident here, I am proud to be in such a beautiful community.”
The City of El Mirage structured their essay winners a bit differently and awarded the top three students in grade 3-8: Esmeralda Olvera Martinez; 1st place, Lejla Tvrtkovic; 2nd place, and Kaleb Rodriquez; third place all from El Mirage Elementary School. High school recognitions include Nathaniel Cosio, and Andre Mena, both 11th grade students at Valley Vista High School.
The five students and their families were invited to attend the City of El Mirage Council meeting on March 7. The students were recognized and received ribbons and certificates.
Esmeralda Olvera Martinez shares her reasons for loving her city: “So, do you want to know why El Mirage is special? Well, I’ll tell you. You’re going to love it.” She goes on to describe the schools, library, and festivals in El Mirage.
Nathaniel Cosio shares the value of community: “In the El Mirage community, I feel like everyone knows each other and have fun just getting to live in the city.”
Student winners from both categories were recognized at the Dysart Unified School District Governing Board meeting on March 9th, 2023.
Danielle Edgerton coordinated the dual city essay contest with support from teachers, administrators, and city leaders.
“It has been such a rewarding experience to partner with both the City of Surprise and the City of El Mirage to honor our scholars and writers,” shared Edgerton. “The essays submitted by all of the students were sincere celebrations of their schools and communities.”