Winners of this year’s Bill Taylor Essay Contest!
Bill Taylor would be well pleased with this year’s winners of his namesake Bill Taylor Essay Contest. Congratulations to Hailey Gagnon of Brewer High School, Chris Pyle of Gould Academy, and Gabriel Christian Soctomah and Meriel Willey of Piscataquis Community High School for their award-winning essays based on the theme of the 2023 Camden Conference, Global Trade and Politics – Managing Turbulence. All the award winners were Camden Conference in the Classroom students.
The contest was established in memory of Bill Taylor, a longtime Camden Conference volunteer and self-professed “troublemaker” who was passionate about our education programs and encouraging students to think big and without limits. This year’s award winners were thinking big, both globally and locally.
Hailey Gagnon’s First Place essay, “The Declining Morale of the American Workforce and the Subsequent Isolationist Behavior in World Economics,“ was cited by the judges for exploring “an important factor in national economics – that of worker unrest,” caused in part by the shock of China entering the global marketplace. Gagnon noted in her essay, “…the influx of low-skilled manufacturing goods from China resulted in widespread unemployment in the U.S.’s unskilled labor force.”
Chris Pyle of Gould Academy was awarded Second Place for his essay, “Assessing Internet Inequality in the US,” The panel of judges agreed that Pyle’s essay “explored important ideas about the inequality of internet access and the urgent need to address infrastructure disparities and affordability.” Pyle argued that “Internet access is a necessity” in today’s world, but in the U.S., 19 million people lack access, which is “a problem that must be solved as quickly as possible.”
Gabriel Christian Soctomah and Meriel Willey, of Piscataquis Community High School, were awarded a third-place tie.
Soctomah’s essay, “Addressing Poverty on Native American Reservations,” was “strong, informative and well referenced,” and his ideas were “powerfully and passionately expressed,” said the judges. Soctomah noted that 25 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives live in poverty and have lower life expectancy than the general population. He proposed strategies for “creating economic opportunities, improving job quality and addressing substance abuse” as pathways to improving conditions for Native Americans.
Meriel Willey’s essay, “Women in Economics,” noted that in the U.S. a woman earns eighty-two cents to a man’s dollar, and she calls for creating opportunities for women “in fields relating to economics and trade” as a means of “mitigating wage inconsistencies, helping to boost average national income, and benefiting national economies.” The judges found Willey’s essay “strong, informative and well referenced.”
Many thanks to Susan Carter, Lenore Rapkin, Laurie Stone, Elaine Keyes, Matt Storin, Jim Hengerer, and Jim Carter for carefully reading through the twenty-three submitted essays to determine the winners – no easy task! And thanks to the schools and teachers who participate in Camden Conference in the Classroom. The essays are available for reading on the Camden Conference website.
The Camden Conference is a nonprofit, non-partisan volunteer-driven citizens’ forum, whose mission is to foster informed discourse on world issues through year-round public engagement in community events and student education programs, culminating in an annual February weekend conference. For more information, please visit www.camdenconference.org