2007 Contest Essay National

J.D. Harrington
Headquarters, Washington
202 358-5241

Kathy Barnstorff
Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.

May 10, 2007


RELEASE : 07-110



High School Winners Chosen in NASA Aeronautics Essay Contest



HAMPTON, Va. - NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate has identified the winners of its high school contest to describe "Air Transportation in 2057." Sarah Vaden from Roanoke Valley Governor's School in Roanoke, Va., and Emma Peterson from Burnsview Secondary School in Delta, British Columbia, won top prizes for their essays on the theme.

Teens from across the United States and six foreign countries submitted 88 essays in four categories: U.S. individual, U.S. team, international individual and international team. In all, 14 teams and 75 individual students submitted essays to NASA's Fundamental Aeronautics Program, which sponsored the contest. The top U.S. team was Tyler Pennington, Morgan Harless, and Jared Hagan from Linwood Holton Governor's School in Abingdon, Va. The top international team was Nombuso Ndlovu, Shoki Kobe, and Lerato Mthembu from the Lotus Hardens High School in Pretoria, South Africa.

"I wish I had been that articulate in high school," said Juan Alonso, director of NASA's Fundamental Aeronautics Program, NASA Headquarters, Washington. "What's particularly gratifying is that many of the students said they were interested in working for NASA in the future. And now we've learned that South Africa has just designated the aeronautics contest the official international section of their aviation science program, which will allow even more schools to participate."

NASA will award the top scoring essays from the United States with a trophy and a cash prize of $1,000 (to be shared, in the case of the team). Non-U.S. students will receive a trophy but are not eligible for cash prizes. All participants will receive a NASA certificate and a personal letter of commendation from a NASA official.

The essays were reviewed by 24 NASA managers and engineers from four NASA centers: Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, and Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va. They based their scores on how well students focused their essays and how well they addressed four basic criteria: informed content, creativity and imagination, organization and writing.

Following top individual student Vaden were two teens who tied for second place: Michael Donelson, a junior from Flagstaff High School, Flagstaff, Ariz., and Meghan Ferrall, a junior from Freedom High School in Tampa, Fla. Jacob Monat, a senior from Kee High School in Lansing, Iowa, was awarded the third place individual award. Honorable mention awards went to Tamara Cottam, a junior from Lexington Catholic High School in Lexington, Ky.; Sam Rochelle, a freshman from Cary Academy, in Cary, N.C.; and Daniel Ho, a junior from the High School of Economics and Finance in New York.

The second and third place individual international awards went to senior level students from India. Second place went to Yashraj Khaitan from the Dhirubhai Ambani International School in Mumbai, and third place was awarded to Ketan Sharma from the Amity International School in Haryana.

The second place U.S. team winners were two students from Midwood High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. Third place went to a four-member team from Lourdes High School, in Rochester, Minn. Honorable mention went to another team also from Midwood High School. In the international team contest, second place was awarded to four seniors from Pakistan, and third place went to two 10th graders from Romania.

Most of the students who participated were high school juniors, but entries also came in from freshmen, sophomores and seniors. Some of the American high school students say they plan to study aerospace-related subjects in college. One senior student wrote that he planned to pursue aerospace at the Air Force Academy. Another senior, a National Merit Scholar, expects to major in aerospace engineering this fall at Iowa State University.

For a complete list of all the winners, visit:


For more information on NASA's aeronautics program, visit:



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The Four-Way Test Essay contest in District 7390 was initiated in 2006-07 by the Rotary Club of Mechanicsburg-North in the 9th grade at Cumberland Valley High School. The winner of their 2007-08 contest presented her essay at the District Conference and was well received.


The 2008-09 District Governor challenged other Clubs to have contests in their local schools and agreed that if multiple Clubs did have contests, he would have their winners vie for District honors and prizes. The Clubs responded and three prizes were awarded in 2009 and 2010 with the first place winners presenting their essays at the District Conference.


Approximately 20 Clubs in the District participate in the Essay contest, but why not every Club? Then every 9th grader in our District would know something about Rotary and our 4-Way Test. Think of the positive effect this would have on their lives, Interact Clubs, the public image of Rotary, and the future of Rotary. If your Club has not already indicated interest in the Essay contest for 2017-2018 please contact District Chair, Steve Grubb at s[email protected].




  1. Agree to sponsor the contest.
  2. Identify and contact the lead English teacher for the ninth grade class(es).
  3. Review the contest rules.
  4. Appoint a committee to evaluate the best essays submitted by the teachers from each School District.
  5. Select the Club winner(s) and submit the first place essay(s) to the District office by March 2, 2018.
  6. Recognize the Club winners, parents and teacher(s) and award certificates/prizes.




  1. Display rules for the contest on the District website.
  2. Provide cash awards for the District winners.
  3. Appoint a committee to evaluate the winning essays submitted by the Clubs and select the District winners. 
  4. Invite the winners, their parents, and teachers to the District Conference where prizes will be awarded to the top three students and the winner will present the winning essay.
  5. Display the winning essays on the District website.



Some Specifics Concerning the Contest

  • Original & personal work of the student. (9th grade students only, signed pledge required)
  • No more then 1500 words, double spaced. (Specific administrative instructions attached)
  • Written in Microsoft Word format.
  • No graphics or high lighted text.
  • Must be available to be published in the press.
  • Must be approved by the student’s parents.
  • Critical dates established and followed by all concerned for the conduct of the contest.
  • Initial screening of nominated essays is performed by the local school English department faculty. The most competitive essays (6-12) are then given to the sponsoring Rotary Club for final evaluation. 
  • A committee of the sponsoring Rotary Club evaluates the essays in accordance with an established Evaluation Guide. (copy attached)
  • Finalists, parents, and teachers are recognized at a sponsoring Rotary Club function and awards presented.
  • Press release, with photo(s), passed to local press. 
  • The winning essay from each Club is forwarded to the District Office by March 2, 2018.



  • A District-wide Four-Way Test Essay contest will continue in the 2017-18 Rotary year.
  • The winning Essays from all participating District Clubs must be in the District Office by March 2, 2018 to allow sufficient time for District judging, notifying the winners, and listing their names in the 2018 District Conference program.
  • Monetary awards: First Place - $500, Second Place - $300, Third Place - $100



Four-Way Essay Contest District Contact:

Steve Grubb

Tel(Cell): (717) 576-8145

E-mail: [email protected]


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