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Megan Earl wins middle school essay contest with her essay on community, environment, school funding

COURTESY OF MEGAN EARL - Megan Earl, winner of the Oregon Mayors Association 2020 'If I Were Mayor' contest, holds up a copy of her winning essay.Megan Earl was surprised when she won Scappoose's annual "If I Were Mayor" contest.

But Earl, a rising freshman at Scappoose High School, was even more shocked when she won the statewide contest last month.

Earl, who finished eighth grade earlier this year, was chosen as the winner of the city's contest by city council back in June. Earl was selected winner out of almost 30 entries — the most submissions the city had ever received, Mayor Scott Burge said.

However, all of the submissions came from students in one class, meaning the city did not receive any submissions to the poster contest for fourth and fifth grades or the digital media presentation contest for high schoolers.

The statewide winners for each age group were determined by mayors on a selection committee through the Oregon Mayors Association.

"I was so shocked," Earl said after finding out she'd won the statewide competition.

Earl said she'd only spent a few days on the paper, so she was surprised it was good enough to win. But part of her success, she said, was thanks to her dad, Adam Earl.

"Most of the things that I wrote down were things that my dad taught me to do growing up. … I think that's why it was super easy for me to write," she said.

Megan Earl said she's enjoyed creative writing for a long time, but that interest was always exceeded by her love for sports. She said she enjoys writing stories and persuasive essays, noting that when she wanted a dog, she made a complete presentation to argue for a puppy. She presented the essay to her entire family at Thanksgiving, thinking that even if her dad wasn't on board afterward, other family members would be convinced and push her dad to agree. It worked, Megan Earl said, and she got the dog.

Scappoose Middle School teacher Stacey Wilkins offered the "If I Were Mayor" contest as one of three options for students after completing a civics unit. The other options were to write a letter to U.S. Rep. Susanne Bonamici or Gov. Kate Brown about a social or political topic of the student's choosing, or to listen to and write about a school board or city council meeting.

"There were some really excellent submissions to the 'If I Were Mayor' contest and I am so proud of all the students who bravely gave it a try. I was delighted to hear that Megan won first the city and then the state contest," Wilkins said.

Read Megan Earl's full essay below:

If I were mayor I would want peace to be spread by everyone everywhere.

I would work hard to let people in our community to know that they aren't alone.

That even through the hardest times you have people that can help you. I would want to plan activities that would bring the community together as one and bring together people who are afraid to friend someone themselves. I believe that a community who is united as one is a strong community. A goal of mine is to keep our town clean and happy.

There are many different things I would do to bring the community together. I would set up dates where the town of Scappoose would come together and hang out with music, food, games, and many other activities!

As mayor I would try to show up to many Scappoose events and cheer on local sports teams. Doing this I would show that the only things I care about aren't just political things but the community. I would want to create a name for Scappoose that we don't care what you look like, your race, and your beliefs.

That the size of your heart matters and how you use it. We accept all, even people with flaws and people who made mistakes. Mistakes are proof people are trying. Nobody is perfect either. People should be weird, unique, because all of this is what makes a good community.

Being the mayor, I would want to find new ways to help the ecosystem around us-for example, picking up trash, not littering, reusing things. If people save Christmas boxes for the next year, why not save bags and plastics to reuse? There's different important reasons to keep our community clean. To have

sporting events, you want clean fields, clean places for children to play, and places for people to walk their dogs. To promote clean areas, I would have trash cans placed all around, on trails, at parks, and sporting fields. I believe having bright and colorful signs everywhere to catch people's attention will help show that picking up trash is a great thing.

As mayor I feel having a community clean of violence would also be a good thing to have. Letting people know that violence isn't the answer and that there are other ways to solve a problem. One way could be making sure people know that there are many people out there to help. Having a community clean of

violence is important not only for safety but for population growth. Growing of population is an important thing, and having a community full of violence isn't a great way for families or couples looking to start a family to want to move here.

An important part of being mayor is spending money on the right things.

Making sure our funding isn't going to something that isn't important. For example, funding for schools is a very important thing. Making sure all schools have everything they need to have a great education. The start of a successful life is education, if schools don't have everything they need, it could be hard to

offer great education. The schools having enough funding is very important for safety reasons as well. Making sure schools have gates up, making sure all the doors are locked, and making sure the bathrooms have all the appropriate things.

Money sometimes becomes a hard thing to have. As mayor I would do fundraisers that the whole community could do to raise money for the fundings we need. Either a bottle drive, or can food drive, stuff like that.

In conclusion, if I were mayor I would want a friendly safe community. To make sure everyone felt welcomed and happy. People's opinions matter and I would make sure I listened to them.

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