Awards Announced in Union’s Writing Contest

December 16, 2021 5:55 PM

The Union's annual writing contest is now 20 years old, and it will be entering its next decade in 2022 after a year that brought some of the finest work ever submitted to the competition. The professionally judged contest awards cash prizes and, yes, some prestige as well, to high school students — grades 10-12 — whose parents are members of the Hotel & Gaming Trades Council (HTC) or the Local 6 Club Department.

Each year the contest has provided solid evidence that there are many talented, intelligent and creative young adults in our union’s family. The 2021 competition was no different.

This year there were almost 100 entries into the contest! The cash prizes pursued in the competition are surely an incentive for students to submit entries, but we think another encouragement for many is a desire to share their thoughts and political opinions with others.

Many of the entries submitted by the students in 2021 were quite thought-provoking. As in the past, many of the essays and narratives showed a deep sense of social awareness, a caring for others and a commitment to one’s community. Issues like the Second Amendment, climate change, the role of the U.S. Supreme Court and, uniquely this year, the impact of the pandemic can all be difficult topics to tackle, but many students nevertheless shared their opinions on these thorny subjects.

The writing competition was established 20 years ago by the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation out of its support for efforts to make society more responsive to progressive ideas. The Foundation also wished to promote creativity among the students — a goal that was certainly achieved in 2021, as many entries showed great inventiveness and originality. The students’ various works also showed a commanding knowledge of current events, an understanding of complex political issues and a spirit of empathy for the less fortunate. The body of work that was submitted in the 2021 writing contest was indeed praiseworthy.

In recent years the contest has been funded by Laurel Ruben, the daughter of Donald Rubin and granddaughter of Jay Rubin, the founder and first president of our union.

“Laurel Rubin deserves much appreciation for continuing this competition in recent years,” HTC President Rich Maroko said. “It provides a marvelous opportunity to our members’ children to show their talents and express their views. That’s why we look forward to it every year.”

It seems the students look forward to the competition, too, judging by the number of entries received. And while no one can deny that any contest brings out the competitive spirit in many, there is little doubt that the prize money is also a strong incentive for students to participate. First place winners in the categories won $1,500 each, and two second place winners in both categories received $1,000 each.

There was one other award in the competition, Best Overall Entry, which is a grand prize of $3,000 that is awarded to the student whose essay or narrative is considered to be the best among all submissions. This year's Best Overall Entry was awarded to Carly Dietz, whose father, John Dietz, works in the St. Regis Hotel. Other prize winners were Nicolas Matei, Christina Anto, Anais Bouchatta, Lawer Nyako, Sabrina Fong, and Amira Shimin. Sabrina Fong also won a prize last year and Amira Shimin became the fourth three-time winner in the history of the competition, having also won prizes in 2019 and 2020.

As noted earlier, the writing contest is an annual event that is announced on the union's website in April or May and is open to high school students grades 10 through 12, who are children or dependents of members of the Hotel & Gaming Trades Council (HTC) or Local 6 Club Department.

We heartily congratulate this year's winners, and we sincerely thank all the students who submitted entries. The collective excellence of this year's essays and narratives makes us greatly look forward to next year's competition!