Young essayists’ works recognized in annual contest

By Christina Leslie | Trenton Monitor Correspondent

Five young Catholic school students from Monmouth County received accolades for their writing skills in an annual essay contest sponsored by N.J. Assemblyman David P. Rible (R-District 30).

Ryan Merkler, a student in St. Rose School, Belmar, and St. Catharine School, Spring Lake, students Ryan Gloster, Reid Matuch, Chloe Scardino and Jack Wilton were among 10 winners in the contest which challenged the students to answer the question “Why is New Jersey the greatest of all the United States?” or “If you were governor, how would you improve New Jersey?”

The contest was open to all fourth- and fifth-grade students in Rible’s district. This year’s 10 finalists, chosen from hundreds of submissions from public, private and parochial schools,  represented schools in Wall, Belmar, Spring Lake, Spring Lake Heights, Howell and Point Pleasant.

“I’ve hosted this essay contest for many years now, and every year the essays get better,” Rible, himself a product of Diocese of Trenton Catholic schools, said. “I’m continually impressed with how much our students are learning about our state and government.”

In their essays, Gloster, Merkler and Matuch shared their agenda for the state if they were to be elected governor.

“As great as this state is, there are still some things that I have to change about it,” Gloster wrote. “If I were governor, I would try to change that by bringing attention to all of the amazing things that our state has to offer.”

Merkler listed lowering taxes, helping small businesses and combining police forces would be a priority during his term as governor. As for a further goal, improving education in public and private schools, he noted, “We need the best education for the children because they are the future, and if we don’t nurture them, the future will be the worst time to live in.”

Matuch also held a long list of priorities to accomplish as New Jersey’s future governor. Creating jobs, upgrading Newark Airport, beginning an anti-smoking and drug campaign in cities and reducing the greenhouse effect all held a place of prominence, but the young shore-area resident declared upgrading highways his first goal. “When holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving come, one-hour rides can turn into three-hour rides,” Matuch wrote. “The summer traffic can be unbearable. Thank goodness we live at the beach and don’t have to drive home to North Jersey like my cousins.”

Essays written by Scardino and Wilton both expressed the youngsters’ insights on why the State of New Jersey was the best of the 50.

“Our state is unique in the fact that it has so many different beautiful land features, from mountains, to beaches, to forests,” noted Scardino, who also listed low crime, great education and proximity to both Philadelphia and New York City.  Proving it is never too early to become a “Jersey girl,” she also wrote, “We don’t have to pump our own gas! Paying and pumping [is] not exactly something people like to think about.”

Wilton, too, expressed a native Jerseyan’s attitude in his essay. “New Jersey is the best state [because] it has more diverse museums, sports, foods and people than any other state… Other people may say that California is the best state, or Texas is the best [but] just because they’re bigger who says they’re better? I say they’re worse.”

All 10 student winners were invited to tour the New Jersey State House and Assembly Chamber, Trenton, and enjoyed lunch with Rible on June 13.

“This year’s submissions were very well written and had some excellent policy ideas,” Rible observed.

Making It Known • Assemblyman Rible, center, stands with nine of the 10 essay contest winners who submitted entries on “Why is New Jersey the greatest of all the United States?” or “If you were governor, how would you improve New Jersey?” Of the nine students pictured, five hailed from the Trenton Diocese. They are Jack Wilton, far left, Ryan Gloster, third from left, Reid Matuch, fourth from left, Ryan Merkler, sixth from left, and Chloe Scardino, far right. Courtesy photo

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