Republican Club essay contest winners stress personal responsibility, strong values


The importance of personal responsibility, limited government and strong values were among the themes stressed by the winners of the Republican Club of Greater St. Augustine’s 3rd annual scholarship essay contest.

Four seniors from St. Johns County high schools were honored last week as the Republican Club presented them with awards recognizing their prize-winning essays addressing the topic “What is the importance of conservative values to young people?” Receiving awards from Scholarship Committee Chair Pat Greenfield were first place winner Dalton Edgell, 17, from Pedro Menendez High School ($1,050 scholarship); second place winner Jackson Davies, 18, from St. Augustine High School ($750 scholarship); third place winner Bailey Cantrell, 18, from Bartram Trail High School ($500 scholarship); and fourth place winner Kelly Aponte, 17, from St. Augustine High School ($300 scholarship).

“This is our third essay contest and we had many fine entries – so many that it was difficult to select just four scholarship recipients,” club member Frank Larizza said. “With young people like these, the future is in good hands.”

As the students read their prize-winning essays to Republican Club members, each related the concept of conservative values to their own lives. First place winner Dalton Edgell, for example, wrote that his commitment to conservative principles prompted him to found the Teenage Republicans Club at his high school and to put the American flag in the courtyard. He also stressed how conservative values motivated people to work hard.

“Young people need to have the incentive to work for what they earn,” Edgell wrote. “It is important to understand the concept of ‘you get out what you put in.’”

Kelly Aponte noted that when she rear-ended another car, she accepted responsibility and paid for the damages herself. “I was raised in family where personal responsibility, financial responsibility and patriotism were held to a high standard,” she said. “Young people today should always take responsibility for their actions.”

The students’ essays also stressed their belief that conservative principles formed the bedrock of America by strengthening the family, bolstering the economy and promoting true racial equality.

“It is important to understand that if everyone deserves equal treatment, then there should be no specific differences between different ethnicities and races,” Edgell wrote. “After all, despite our race we are all Americans.”

Bailey Cantrell wrote that it was the job of conservatives to uphold the U.S. Constitution while keeping it relevant to their everyday lives. “I firmly believe in the values on which our country was built.”

Jackson Davies agreed. “Conservative values are what built this country and made it great,” he said. “It is up to the young people of America to take on America’s problems.”

The students’ essays won praise from those in attendance. Bill Bacon said that as a grandparent, he has been concerned about the direction in which our country is heading and the fact that so many young people seemed swayed by socialism and promises of “free” education and health care that in reality will be paid for by somebody else.

“I’m so impressed and so heartened by your ability to understand what conservatism is all about,” he told the scholarship recipients. “Now, tell your friends – spread it around!”