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Arthur Ashe essay contest winner at Harriet Tubman

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Harriet Tubman Charter School has another feather in its cap, as one of the school’s students has won the borough-wide title to the prestigious Arthur Ashe Essay Contest this year.

Njeri Francis, valedictorian of the Harriet Tubman Charter School’s eighth grade class that graduated last June, was the borough winner of the Arthur Ashe Essay Contest, which is sponsored by the New York Junior Tennis League.

Her essay dealt with how education is vocational training, but just as important, a tool that helps individuals design and build a life plan that allows them to help others.

“Our school’s goal is to have every student go to college, and focuses on a holistic philosophy that allows students to know that their opportunities are unlimited,” said Harriet Tubman Charter School chairman of the board Cliff Fraiser. “Entering essay contests allow our students to explore, expand, and examine what they learn in the classroom. It is part of our goal to have students be well rounded young people.”

Francis said that the essay began as part of a writing prompt that her teacher gave her in English Language Arts class. The theme of the essay was “from what we get we make a living, from what we give makes a life.”

“The essay began as part of an exercise our teacher made us do at the beginning of class,” Francis said. “Entering an essay contest is something that I have never done before and I was really surprised that I won.”

Francis said that her friends encouraged her to enter the essay contest, even though she had never written seriously outside of assignments that were given to her by teachers.

Now that she has achieved some success, she said that she definitely would enter other essay contests in the future. The essay made the student think about the principles shaping who she is as a person.

“I think there is a difference in making a living in terms of how you go on during a day-to-day and developing strong, guiding principles of what you believe in,” Francis said.

Francis may have been surprised that she won the essay contest, but her mother Susan Almeida said that her daughter is a voracious reader who should have natural writing ability.

“I am not surprised because she is always reading, going to Barnes and Noble, and completing Harry Potter books in just a few days.” Almeida said.

Harriet Tubman Charter School is located at 3565 3rd Avenue.

Updated 5:26 pm, October 21, 2011
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