Essay contest celebrates Season of Giving at Manteo Middle School

Dare Schools Superintendent John Farrelly (left), Elisabeth Writtenberry, Sophie Austin, Dare school board member David Twiddy, Manteo Middle School principal Tami Harper, Nancy Gaddy, Finn Gaddy. [submitted photo]

Story courtesy Dare County Schools
This time of year is known as a time for  giving to others. Finn and Nancy Gaddy wanted to give students at Manteo Middle School the opportunity to get a chance to experience the joy of giving themselves.

Back in October, Finn reached out to principal Tami Harper  about holding an essay contest for students.  The contest would be for all grades and run through the language arts classes. The topic chosen was “A Season of Giving ”.

Students were asked to write about something they felt would improve our school or community.

Two lucky students would then be chosen and provided the money to fund their idea.  The first place winner would receive $3,000 and 2nd place would be $2,000.

A video was created and shared with students to explain the guidelines for entering the contest. The essays were evaluated independently by all the ELA Teachers, voted on,  and two winners were selected.

Students topics ranged from trying to help issues they found in the community, such as homelessness to fixing problems in the schools, such as getting robots to help clean the school to help out custodians.

Other essays included ideas to enhance our school such as a butterfly garden, tarps for our baseball fields, and hygiene product dispensers in the bathrooms.

All the essays were well thought out and really showed the students’ desire to help others in the school and community.

“It really could be seen in the essays I read, what really great, insightful and caring students we have at Manteo Middle School, which is something I already knew, but it is nice to be reminded,” Harper said. “Students showed compassion for our hardworking custodians as well as compassion for the homeless in our community. Overall they just did a fantastic job.”

After the winners were chosen, Harper reached out to Finn Gaddy to let him know what he would be funding. Gaddy was a little taken back by the first place winner. This was for good reason.

Sophie Austin wrote about creating a butterfly garden for Manteo Middle School and all the learning opportunities it would provide for our students.

The reason Gaddy was taken back was because he was so touched. His mother, Lucy Finch Gadd,  loved butterflies and in her memory a butterfly garden was created in 2009 at William Peace University in her memory, entitled “The Gaddy Garden.”

He was so touched he decided to increase the donation amount to $4,000 dollars for the butterfly garden and $3,000 for the second place winner.

The second place winner was Elisabeth Writtenberry. Her essay talked about her genuine concern for the homeless in our community.

She wanted to be able to help provide additional funding to the community program, Room at the Inn that helps provide a place for the homeless to sleep in the winter months as well as support for the homeless in our community.

“Homelessness was near and dear to her heart,” Elisabeth said. She said the best part about winning was knowing she was responsible for helping the Room at the Inn receive the $3,000 dollar additional funding.

Manteo Middle School, as well as Principal Harper, are very appreciative of the funding they have received from the Charles Finch Gaddy Endowment.

This essay contest is just another example of the desire the Gaddys have for enhancing the learning opportunities for students here at Manteo Middle School.