The Student News Site of Essex High School

The Hive

The Hive

The Hive

Frisbie Wins Bernie Sanders’ Annual State of the Union Essay Contest

Senator Bernie Sanders announced the winners of his annual State of the Union Essay Contest on February 22, 2024. Since the competition’s creation in 2010, thousands of Vermont high schoolers have submitted essays addressing the most pressing issues in our country. Essex High School’s very own Leah Frisbie won first place, and revealed her writing process as well as the unexpected way she learned of her accomplishment.

The Hive: You recently won the Bernie Sanders essay contest. What did you write about?

Frisbie:  I wrote about the negative ramifications of banning books in society.

The Hive: Why why did you choose to write about that?

Frisbie: I initially was definitely overwhelmed when I saw the prompt as there was a lot of areas that I could explore. But I knew I wanted to do something I was passionate about and that was unique. And so when I started researching more about banned books, and so a lot of the books that were on the list that I have read, I realized how like Pivotal, they worked in my experiences and like perspectives, so that kind of like drives.

The Hive: How did you initially hear about the contest?

Frisbie: In AP Lang, it was a required assignment.

The Hive:  Do you think that this is a good thing to require in an AP class?

Frisbie: I wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for the class, and so it was definitely a good experience.

The Hive: When you were writing it, did you ever think, oh, maybe I could win this or was it a surprise?

Frisbie: It was definitely a surprise. I was more focused on getting good grades in the class.

The Hive: How’d you find out that you won?

Frisbie: It was in the Congressional Record, which was very hidden.  Someone found that, and then my teacher emailed the staffers to see if it was true before it was officially in an email.  They said it was but not to say anything until it was official.

The Hive: What was your reaction when you found out?

Frisbie: I was really surprised that I didn’t really believe it.

The Hive: Was there a prize for winning?

Frisbie:  I was able to attend the roundtable discussion at the Statehouse with Bernie and the other finalists.

The Hive: Do you know any of the other finalists? Have you communicated with them at all?

Frisbie: Jack French, who is also in my class, was a finalist. Everyone was really nice.

The Hive: What was your teachers reaction to finding out that you guys had won?

Frisbie: I think she was also surprised two people from her class won. She was very happy for us and supportive.

The Hive: Do you have a favorite banned book?

Frisbie: The Hate You Give or The Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

The Hive: If someone else wanted to enter this contest, what advice would you give them? Would you encourage them to enter it?

Frisbie: I would definitely encourage them because there’s nothing to lose. If you are a finalist, the experience is so memorable really unique. For advice, I would say write about a unique topic. That helps because there’s fewer people that write about it.

Read Leah Frisbie’s winning essay below:

Books are foundational to our society, as self-discovery is enhanced through reading about different characters, cultures, and perspectives and finding similarities within it all. Books have the power to transform lives, tell important stories, and spread information. As each year more and more books are pulled from library shelves, the opportunities provided are reduced. The banning of books in the United States is a pressing problem that deprives people across the country from perspectives, information, and freedom. 

In recent years, the removal of books from school libraries has exponentially increased in the United States. According to The New York Times, “The PEN report, which counted book removals in school and classroom libraries during the 2022-2023 school year, found 3,362 cases of books being removed, a 33 percent increase over the previous school year.” The majority of banned books target topics relating to gender identity, racial justice, and sexuality. Through attempts to ban books, marginalized groups’ stories and perspectives are silenced. The act of banning books diminishes the quality and purpose of education. With the absence of diverse stories shared, the population becomes less educated, and marginalized groups will continue to be underrepresented. When students aren’t exposed to diverse stories, ignorance, hate, and fear rise.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is a book that tells the true story of a young girl facing racism and its correlation to police brutality in the US. Although it is a heavy topic, it accurately addresses the reality and problems of our society. It communicates someone’s life experiences, yet is widely banned in school libraries due to its portrayal of racism and anti-police views. The Hate U Give is a single example out of thousands of books, where underrepresented groups’ stories, history, and truth is restricted from the public. 

In order to stop the escalation of banned books, Congress must pass the Fight Banned Books Act that was introduced in December of 2023. The act provides funding to school districts to fight against the banned book crisis. Currently, many schools do not have the budget to defend banned books, resulting in a surge of books being pulled from shelves. With the act, The Department of Education would dedicate $15 million over five years to school districts to help assist in the costs, including retaining legal representation, travel to hearings on bans, and maintaining expert research. By passing the Fight Banned Books Act, school districts across the nation would play a fundamental role in decreasing banned books and spreading awareness. 

Congress must pass the Fight Banned Books Act in order to protect the nation from the needless deprivation of information. The issues occuring in society, such as gender and race inequalities, deserve to be shared in libraries. While the intention of removing books from shelves is to protect students, it is doing the complete opposite: Students’ education, freedom, and exposure to different perspectives is deprived. 

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Hive
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Essex High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Kaitlyn Corbin, Staff Writer
Kaitlyn Corbin is an 11th grader and staff writer for The Hive. She is involved in Student Government, Scholar’s Bowl, STEM Academy, National Honors Society, the Varsity Field Hockey team, and the Varsity Tennis team here at EHS. In her free time she enjoys crocheting and skiing. You can contact her at [email protected].
Donate to The Hive
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Hive Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *