PEC opens essay contest; students brainstorm community service projects

Lexi Rima, Reporter

High school is commonly regarded as a time to prove one’s talents. Many organizations recognize this fact, and have academic contests for high school students. One organization, Pedernales Electric Cooperative, has a youth tour program in which, this year, students submit an essay about a creative community service project.

PEC is, according to employee Celeste Mikeska, a widely-renowned organization in which many people are served.

“Pedernales Electric Cooperative is a private electric utility owned by the members we serve,” Mikeska said. “[It’s] an industry-recognized leader providing electric service to more than 262,000 active accounts throughout 8,100 square mile for more than 75 years.”

The Youth Tour Contest is PEC’s way of connecting to teenagers and helping students play their own role in community development.

“The Youth Tour contest was initiated by then-senator Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1957 when he suggested ‘sending youngsters to the national capital where they can actually see what the flag stands for and represents.’ His idea evolved in the 1960s into a nationwide effort to send young people on fun, educational trips to the nation’s capital,” Mikeska said. “The Youth Tour is now comprised of more than 1,500 youths sponsored by their electric cooperative on a trip to Washington, D.C. in June.”

The essay prompts change from year to year. Last year students were asked to write a narrative based on a picture. This year, it’s a persuasive essay. All entries are due Oct. 22.

“This year’s essay prompt asks students to write about a community service project that would benefit their school district,” Mikeska said. “It is the first of its kind, thus this is the first opportunity for the possibility of ideas to come to fruition.”

PEC is not an English-centered organization, as it pertains to electricity, but is a promoter of education, including language arts. PEC recruits English teachers in the area to score the entries.

“The teachers are provided a scoring guideline; however, each teacher scores assigned essays at their own discretion,” Mikeska said. “To ensure equality for all entries, the tip I can provide to students is simply do your best and follow the Application Guidelines.”

Students will be granted a one week Washington D.C. trip if they complete the essay and score high enough. In D.C., the winners will visit multiple sites. According to Mikeska, the Youth Tour contest is an incredibly opportunity in which all students should participate.

“I’m excited to see the service-oriented ideas students submit,” Mikeska said. “The service project could potentially be a dramatic benefit to the community, school, and student.”