It’s one thing to expose students to innovative and creative learning opportunities when times are good. It’s another altogether amidst a global pandemic, when schools were abruptly switching to emergency remote learning. But that’s exactly what CA did back in early March for Grade 8 students participating in The New York Times’ annual Student Editorial Contest.
For Kenzie B., it was exactly the kind of inspiring class project to help get her through unprecedented times. “My teachers introduced the contest to me as a class project. We had just started it when school shut down, and I kept working on my essay outside of school.”
Her essay, entitled “Happily Ever After,” focused on how fairy tales need an update to include modern values and lessons for future generations. Her argument: “times have changed, and the ideals of modern society no longer match these stories. So why are we clinging on to these unrealistic and often damaging morals?”
So, where did such a great essay concept come from?
For Kenzie, it was a natural continuation from a school project that had actually occurred a year earlier – the Grade 7 Marketplace project. For that project, students had to make a product and then “sell” it to parents.
At the time, Kenzie actually rewrote fairy tales with feminism and modern values and sold modern, hand produced books as her product.
“Rather than have young girls growing up wanting to be princesses, I want them to have healthy values, and be just as strong and brave as the men featured in the traditional fairy tales.”
Her passion for feminism and equal representation definitely struck a nerve with the New York Times competition. While still learning remotely, she found out she’d been selected as a finalist.
“I was shocked. I didn’t expect it. My family and teachers zoom called me to tell me the news.”
Now in Grade 9, Kenzie is excited for the future – which remains full of possibilities.
“I’m not 100% sure what the future holds. At some point, I want to publish a book or short story somewhere. Maybe I’ll go into law. But I definitely see myself still writing.”
Congratulations, Kenzie, on a great accomplishment!