English students win college money with essays

Junior Natalie Degabriele won the first prize, a free year to the University of Iowa, in the Paul Engle High School Essay.

Two CFHS students won scholarship money toward the University of Iowa through the Paul Engle High School Essay Contest with the assignments they completed in the English 10A classes last spring. 

Junior Clare Williams was runner up in the Paul Engle High School Essay, winning $500.

Juniors Natalie Degabriele and Clare Williams, the two winners, along with all of the tenth grade students in English class were told about this contest at the end of the last school year. The teachers asked them to write a detailed memory in nature somewhere in Iowa. Degabriele was a student in Matt Klemesrud’s class, Williams was a student in Brian Winkel’s class.

“I didn’t want to stress about it too much because I was like, it’s almost the last day of school,” Degabriele, who one a free year to UI, said. ‘“But the last night before we turned in the paper, I remember telling my mom ‘this better at least get the $500” because I was stressing out about it and putting so much work into it.”’

To get in touch with their senses, the English teachers had the students read past winners’ stories and visualize. Winkel even had his students lie on the floor, close their eyes and visualize the story they were trying to tell. 

Degabriele wrote about a canoeing trip during a summer Bible camp, while Williams shared a memory about a time when her grandpa created a snow hill for her to sled on. 

“That was just after the Polar Vortex, and everybody was like ‘Oh, Iowa winters suck,’ but I was like, there is a way for winter to be a beautiful thing and have a good time outside without it being 90 degrees,” Williams, who won $500 for her runner up finish in the essay contest, said. 

Matthew Klemesrud, Degabriele’s english teacher at the time, said at the beginning he knew Natalie’s paper was going to be good. “She just did what we prescribed every day to the highest level.” he said. “I knew before I got that final draft that it was going to be a good piece.” 

Degarbriele said this experience has made her push herself in herself more in her English class, since in the past she has heavily focused on science and math. “But maybe pushing myself harder in the area of writing is good, which is why I am taking honors this year to see if I do like that higher level. I was kind of stable since eighth grade, not really learning anything to prepare me much for college,” she said. 

After winning, Degabriele said she has been looking into UI. “I’m now open to looking at it more because of it. I won’t choose to go to Iowa because of the scholarship. It will be for something else,” she said. 

Klemesrud said that he hopes students learned that they can always get better. “Maybe my ultimate hope is that the thought process that I can improve. Whether that personally,  socially, mentally, academically. Whatever adverb you want to fill in there. I hope thats what they take away from it.” 

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