The University of Scranton announced medalists of its Earth Day Essay Contest for students in grades 5 to 12 at an Evening of Environmental Science event on campus in April. From left: Earth Day Essay Contest first place medalists Edie Hann, grade 9, Scranton Preparatory School; Colin Sickles, grade 5, St. Clare/St. Paul’s Elementary School; and Mark Murphy, director of the Office of Sustainability at the University.

Students from several Catholic Schools won awards at The University of Scranton’s Earth Day Essay Contest – with a theme inspired by the Pope’s call.

Three-hundred and fifty students in grades five to 12 participated in The University of Scranton Earth Day Essay Contest this year, which set a record for participation in the annual competition. Awards were announced at the University’s Evening of Environmental Science Event on campus in April.

This year’s essay theme was “Sustainable Living, Caring for Creation,” which was inspired by Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home” and The University of Scranton’s commitment to join a coalition of colleges from around the world to develop, implement and evaluate initiatives around seven ecological goals over a seven-year period to meet the Pope’s call for integral ecology and to gain designation by the Vatican as a Laudato Si’ University.

The first-place winner of the fifth-grade essay contest was Collin Sickles, from St. Claire/St. Paul’s Elementary School. Aubrey Mace, from Howard Gardner Multiple Intelligence Charter School and Sophia Norton, from St. Clair/St. Paul tied for second place. Isabella Muso and Taylor Ebersole from All Saints Academy won third place medals.

The sixth-grade student that took first place in the essay contest was Sean Kiernan, from Howard Gardner Multiple Intelligence Charter School. The students who tied for second place were Ronan Keating and Katie Doherty, both from St. Claires/St. Paul’s Elementary School. Receiving a third-place awards were Nathan Dennis, from Fell Charter School and Griffin Maynor, from All Saints Academy.

All the seventh-grade essay contest winners were from St Claire/St. Paul’s Elementary School. The first-place winner of the seventh-grade essay contest was Preet Patel. The second-place winners were Madlyn McHale and Sage Michel. The third-place winners were Bennet Budow and Lily Reager. 

The eight-grade first-place winner was Sylvia Fahey, from Howard Gardner Multiple Intelligence Charter School. In second place were Elizabeth Rich, from Holy Rosary School and Raeleigh Reiss, from Howard Gardner. The third-place winner was Jonathan Fitzmaurice, from Holy Rosary School.

The ninth-10th grade essay contest winners were: Edie Hann, first place, Scranton Preparatory School; Anusha Thapa Magar, second place, Holy Cross High School; Anna Tringale, second-place, North Carolina; and Simon E. Madore, third place, Holy Cross High School.

The 11th-12th grade essay contest winners were all from Valley View High School. Coming in first place was Gabby Staback; in second place was Emma Miller and tied for third-place was Noah M. Nocek and Christian Sweeny.

University of Scranton students who work in the Jesuit school’s Office of Sustainability reviewed the essays submitted, in addition to organizing the award ceremony. University students Emily Burgers, an environmental science major from Wayne, New Jersey; Rebekah Thompson, an occupational therapy major from Bedminster, New Jersey; and Emma Warras, an environmental science major from Kinnelon, New Jersey; spoke at the award program. Mark Murphy, director of the Office of Sustainability at the University, has organized the Earth Day Essay Contest for a decade.

Information about next year’s essay contest will be posted to the University’s Sustainability webpage in January 2025.