Somerset Student Wins 'If I Were Mayor' Essay Contest
Town of Somerset's Alison Mills is the regional winner of the Maryland Municipal League's contest for fourth-grade students.
Brainstorming for ways to improve the community isn't just for adults and elected officials.
In Maryland, kids do it, too.
The Town of Somerset is home to one of Maryland's 11 "If I Were Mayor" essay contest winners. Alison Mills—daughter of Kevin Mills and Councilmember Franny Peale—won the regional "If I Were Mayor" contest (for Montgomery and Howard counties), and was honored last week in Annapolis, where she met Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (MD), and went for a boat ride with the other winners in the city's harbor.
The statewide essay contest is held each year by the Maryland Municipal League, and gives fourth-grade students across the state "a chance to creatively use grade-specific language arts skills and civics/social studies knowledge."
This year’s contest theme, “Meeting the Challenge,” asked students "to identify interesting problems and challenges in their communities, decide which they would address [if they were mayor] and [tell] how they would encourage citizen involvement," according to a press release from the lieutenant governor's office.
In her essay, Alison, 10, wrote about her ideas for saving energy, and about street safety for children, Peale said. Alison's Somerset Elementary School teacher, Regina Sakaria, assigned the essay to all of the students in her class.
Essays were judged by contest sponsors in the following areas: the essay's relation to the contest topic, the creativity demonstrated by the student in the essay, the student's proper use of grammar and the student's displayed knowledge about municipal government and the role of a mayor. The maximum word count allowed for the essays was 275 words.
The contest presents an opportunity to learn about state government and to see the state capital, said Town of Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin, who attended last week's ceremony and boat ride with Alison. For some of the winners, it's their first time visiting Annapolis, Slavin added.
And, over the years, "a lot of the ideas that have come forward from the essays have actually been implemented. ... It’s amazing how insightful and informed fourth-graders can be," Slavin said.