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Sierra Vista student writes award-winning essay

Posted: June 10, 2008 4:33 p.m.
Updated: August 11, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Sierra Vista Junior High eighth grade student Maral Sakayan, 14, shows off the first-place award she received in a county-wide essay competition.

A Sierra Vista Junior High School student recently took top honors in a nationwide writing competition.
Maral Sakayan took first place among thousands of eighth-graders for her essay about responsibility, which she wrote for her college-prep class, known as Advancement Via Individual Determination.
While the 14-year-old received her certificate and prizes just last month, they were highly anticipated for quite a while.

Sakayan said she wrote the essay during a 45-minute class period before the school went on winter break.
Even though she had practiced her writing skills before, the challenge to write about responsibility was something new for her. Plus, this was her first time entering the competition.

The eighth-grader wrote about the importance of being prepared for class every day and making sure to bring the necessities like pens and paper and, of course, homework.

Sakayan, who lives in Canyon Country, also wrote about being responsible around others.

"In order for friends to like you, you don't have to goof off," she said.

Months later, she got word that her essay won first place at an annual Los Angeles County writing competition for Advancement Via Individual Determination students.

She also serves as the first winner from the Canyon Country junior high school.

Along with the certificate, Sakayan received a $50 gift card. The school also rewarded her by taking her out for dinner.

Her college-prep teacher, Kellie Kontis, said Sakayan is an excellent and insightful student who deserves the award.

"She's a very responsible student," she said.

Sakayan said she has learned a lot through her college prep class, which accepts a select number of students after an application and interview process.

Along with being introduced to the world of college, she has built critical thinking skills.

"It teaches you how to work around a question to get an answer," she said.

The class also focuses on sharpening speaking skills and building vocabulary.

Kontis said the class teaches students the characteristics youngsters need to get into college and succeed in the work force.

At the same time, the class field trips help to expose the teens to the idea of one day attending college.
The class has motivated Sakayan to look ahead to her future.

She plans to take as many Advanced Placement and honors classes as possible as she gears up to attend Canyon High School in the fall.

She hopes to one day attend UCLA or Woodbury University and eventually become a doctor or a lawyer.

But for the time being, Sakayan is warming up to the idea of being a high school student.

"I am kind of scared and happy all at the same time," she said.


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