Franscesca Smith and Marijke de Vries won the Optimist Student Writing Contest

According to Optimist International, the essay contest is sponsored by Optimist International to give young people the opportunity to write about their own opinions regarding the world in which we live in. The approach can encompass a young person’s personal experience, the experience of their country, or a more historical perspective. Participants in this contest also have the opportunity to win a college scholarship.


“I wrote about a hero that brings out the optimist in me which was my dad, after I moved to the United States many events happened that most high schoolers should not have to go through and I wrote how my dad was the hero in the story about finding peace and faith in the chaos of my life,” Marijke de Vries, a senior at Arrowhead said. Vries also got $100 and social media recognition for her placing.


According to both Franscesca Smith, a senior and second place winner, and Vries, the topic for the essay this year was on an everyday hero who brings out the optimism in you. According to Optimist Writing Contest, some of the criteria was that the contestant has to be under the age of 19 as of October first, and students must enter in the district in which they reside. There is no minimum age for contestants to enter and those who are in school or military outside of the U.S. are able to enter their last home of record.


Smith said, “I found out about the optimist club through my Advanced Comp Class. We were required to do it for an assignment. I wrote about a stranger in California who had changed the outlook I had on my life and myself.”


According to Optimist International, the Optimist club is a worldwide volunteer organization made up of more than 2,500 local Clubs. The members of these clubs work each day to make the future brighter by bringing out the best in children in their communities and themselves


Vries said, “I read Francesca Smith’s essay and I loved how she wrote it. We both grew up very differently yet our stories tap into experiences that many people can relate to on some level. I think that everyone interested in writing should give this contest a try. It is very valuable and manageable but also is a good local contest.”


Smith stated that she got second place which got her $150 in prize money. Vires who won third place got $100 as a reward and recognition on the organization’s social media pages. Club winners advance to the district contest to compete for the $2,500 scholarship. 


“I submitted to the contest last semester and just recently (a couple of days ago) received word that I was one of the top three. I liked the contest. It’s not something I would’ve done outside of class but it was one of the few we wrote that I actually enjoyed and liked what I had written,” Smith said.