BURLINGTON, Vt. (NEWS10) — J Lahue, a freshman from Burr & Burton Academy in Manchester, Vermont, took second place in Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 13th-annual State of the Union Contest, a spokesperson in the senator’s press office announced on Thursday. Lahue was chosen from a field of 382 students, representing 31 high schools across the state.
Since Sanders started the contest, more than 5,700 students have written essays focusing on prominent social issues—from gun safety to racial justice. Lahue focused on political polarization in her piece, arguing, “Political polarization, or the divergence of political beliefs away from the center towards ideological extremes, is a prominent problem and a threat to democracy.”
Lahue was topped only by August Howe, a junior at Twinfield Union School in Plainfield. The first-place essay was centered on holding social media platforms accountable for misinformation.
Howe, Lahue, and the other 13 finalists were invited to a roundtable discussion with Sanders at the Vermont State House, Saturday, February 11. The senator will also enter the finalists’ essays into the Congressional Record, the official archive of the U.S. Congress. The contest is timed to coincide with the President’s annual address to a joint session of Congress, which happens on Tuesday, February 7.
The winning essays can be read below.