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Mikayla Clarke, center, received recognition from Alex Craven and Kathryn Van Haste, staff members with Sen. Bernie Sanders, for her submission to the State of the State essay contest.

WESTMINSTER >> Two representatives from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders office visited Bellows Falls Union High School on Tuesday, April 26.

Alex Craven and Kathryn Van Haste met with and talked to the students who took part in Sanders' State of the Union Essay contest in the fall. A number of BFUHS students took part in this statewide writing contest.

Craven and Van Haste also formally recognized Mikayla Clarke as a finalist in the essay contest and presented her with a framed copy of her essay in the Congressional Record.

The sixth annual contest gave Vermont high school students a chance to address what they see as the major issues facing the country. It coincided with President Barack Obama's delivery of his final State of Union address to Congress.

"This contest is designed to engage Vermont's high school students on the major issues facing the country. Once again, our students did an outstanding job," said Sanders, who serves on the Senate education committee. "Our students are the future of our country and they must be involved in the discussion about where our country needs to go."

Nineteen students at BFUHS took part in the essay contest, including students in Senior Seminar, AP English, and English Literature and Composition. Clarke was among 20 finalists in the state for her essay, selected from nearly 800 entries. She entered the contest as an extra credit assignment in Craig Divis' Senior Seminar class.


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As a finalist, Clarke's essay has officially been entered into the Congressional Record, the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress, by Sanders. After officially filing the essays in the Congressional Record, a national marijuana reform magazine and website, High Times, picked up the story and published an article on their website about Clarke's essay, which focused on marijuana reform in the United States. Clarke's essay is quoted throughout the article, which focuses on young people's views on marijuana reform.