April 7, 2000

Library Student Essay Contest Winners Announced Joint Project of City Schools, Library and Library Friends Group

Culminating another major "Write for Literacy' effort, San Diego City Schools and San Diego Public Library announced the 12 grand prize winners of their citywide annual essay contest.

More than one thousand students wrote essays on five topics revolving around using libraries and improving reading and writing skills.

"This was our best year ever, in terms of writing abilities shown by the pupils," said Jack Winer, president of Friends of the Public Library, a volunteer group that each year runs the contest.

"Our goal, as always, was to instill in children the love of books and improve their reading and writing skills," said Anna Tatar, City Library Director, "and because of this enthusiastic response they have taken a major step toward improved literacy in the community."

School teachers used the essay writing as part of the school district's new standards-based curriculum.

" I speak for all employees of San Diego City Schools in saluting every student who put their literacy skills to good use in submitting essays," said Alan Bersin, City Schools superintendent. "Our teachers are working hard to implement the district's literacy framework..."

"The contest is proof that two giant bureaucracies and dedicated volunteers can work together to achieve outstanding results, to make a difference in people's lives," said Charlie Ross, contest chief judge.

Alberta Waggoner, a Friends officer involved in running the contest, said that diversity was distinctly evident this year. "Many of the entries and grand prize winners came from the inner city libraries and schools," she said.

The four grand prize winners in the high school division were Lir Torres, Hoover High School; Warren James, Scripps Ranch High School; Dana Ung, Crawford High School; and Francis Song, La Jolla High School.

The grand prize winners in the middle school division were Julia Rozier, Correia Middle School; Ashley Martin, Marshall Middle School; Jerett Sigrist, Pershing Middle School; and Tony Fantano, St. Vincent de Paul School.

Grand prize winners in the elementary school were Faith Wargo, Jerabek Elementary; Elton Gonzales, Franklin Elementary; Tymika Brown, Our Lady of Sacred Heart; and Shena Nalica, Fulton Elementary.

The winners, their parents and teachers, will be honored in ceremonies at 7 p.m. April 11 at SeaWorld. Each winner will be given trophies and two passes to SeaWorld. Mayor Susan Golding has also arranged to give each winner a certificate of appreciation and recognition by the City Council at a council meeting in late April.

Essay topics were "A Book That Influenced My Life," "Libraries and Censorship In An Internet World," "Dear Governor Davis, My Library is Important Because..." "Lifelong Reading Is A Necessity," and "The Important Of Families Reading Together." The grand prize winning students were selected from winners at the fourth, eighth and tenth grades at all schools in the city. All lower level awards are currently being presented in ceremonies at city library branches and schools.

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