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Congratulations Winners! #126
What’s the best class you ever took?
Writing Contest Winners


1st Prize $150 winner + $200 “wish certificate” from One Simple Wish
A Model of Excellence

I will never forget Mr. Andrew Ravin’s 7th grade English class. He was a small man from Brooklyn who wore his yarmulke to class every day. He shared his love of literature with the read-aloud tradition, which most teachers stopped after elementary school.

Some of my favorite literary memories were created on his classroom rug, including an animated performance of The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. Mr. Ravin motivated his students to become lifelong readers and explorers.

In addition to reading, Mr. Ravin loved writing. His writing lessons centered around expression rather than form. Most of the writing exercises stimulated curiosity about the world through intentionally vague prompts.

To encourage us to write about painful, intimate experiences, he shared personal family and coming-of-age spoken-word poems. When it came time to perform our own spoken-word poetry for the class, many people shared similarly intimate moments in their lives through poetry. The pain my classmates expressed reminded me that we are all the same in how we experience suffering. It was my first taste of true empathy.

Mr. Ravin taught me to pursue authenticity. He laid everything on the table, so students felt they could confide in him. He became a model to us of a truly excellent person with a limitless capacity for empathy and originality. He cultivated the minds of his students, instead of just teaching to the test.

I would not be the writer or the driven college student I am today without his encouragement and engagement. If more educators were adamant about self-expression and originality the way Mr. Ravin is, I believe every student would be more engaged in their own learning experiences.

Andrea Sumrall, 19
Saratoga Springs, NY



2nd Prize $100 winner + $100 “wish certificate” from One Simple Wish
Hands-On Science

I believe that the best class I ever had was life science in my vaguely memorable middle school. The teacher was a short blonde woman with an unsurpassed personality and an infectious laugh. She made the class very interesting with entertaining experiments and know-how on anything science-related.

She had one experiment where we left an egg to soak in fluoride, then in soda, while another egg that hadn’t been soaked in fluoride was also soaked in soda. The egg drenched with fluoride lasted longer. This experiment compared the eggshell to tooth enamel. This experiment proves fluoride mouthwash is beneficial to the teeth. This helped me because I apply it to real life situations.

Another cool thing about this class was all the insects and fish she had. They were fun to watch and play with. Once I held the millipede. Its many legs tickled my hand. I was very disappointed when I had to leave this class. I miss it already.

Annielo V., 16
Syosset, NY


3rd Prize $50 winner + $50 “wish certificate” from One Simple Wish
Music Class Sets Me Free

Music is important for so many reasons. Music is like therapy for me. It calms me down when nothing else can. I can pretend to be somewhere else and have so much fun when I am singing and dancing to the beats. Music makes people come together even when they have nothing in common. They will talk about the same songs that they like and sing together. Music is like being free to be anything I want. It really doesn’t have so many rules like everything else. Music is like breathing, and I can’t live without it.

Dante Simmons
Pleasantville, NY



Honorable Mentions: Jahnasia Fraser, Salena F., Zena Griffin, Alba Gutierrez, Quavon R., Angelo Thompson, Donna Vailes-Kennedy, Christian V.

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(FCYU-2016-01-28)

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