After tweaking and revising their essays, the winners of V.I. First Lady Cecile deJongh’s mental health essay contest were announced Friday morning during an award ceremony at the St. Croix Central High School Learning Media Center.
The second annual Mental Health Essay Contest for all high school students in the Virgin Islands was developed to bring awareness on mental health issues in the territory. The students were asked to write an essay entitled “How can persons with mental illnesses be better supported in our community?”
“Mental health illness is dear to my heart,” deJongh said, speaking of her sister, whom she said made her an advocate for the cause.
A total of 144 entries from both private and public high schools took part in the essay contest; however, three girls from CHS won this year for St. Croix. The winners from the St. Thomas/St. John district are featured in a separate Source story (see links below).
Mychah Thomas-Mccleary, first place winner, received$350.
“I thought the topic was very challenging, but I learned a lot about mental health issues,” Thomas-Mccleary said.
Jeanelle Hector, second place winner, received $175.
Raenesia Matthew, third place winner, received $75. Matthew said the contest was “interesting and challenging.”
Language arts teacher Nicole Miller worked with the girls and assured the essays were in tip-top-shape for submission.
The essays were judged in four categories: structure and clarity; creativity; content; and references. The judges were mental health and education professionals.