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Write on! Oly senior wins statewide essay contest

Olympic senior Margery Pulkkinen was presented with an award for winning the annual Association of Washington Generals essay contest. Pulkkinen received a plaque commemorating her win and a $500 scholarship to the college of her choice.   - Photo by Paul Balcerak
Olympic senior Margery Pulkkinen was presented with an award for winning the annual Association of Washington Generals essay contest. Pulkkinen received a plaque commemorating her win and a $500 scholarship to the college of her choice.
— image credit: Photo by Paul Balcerak

By PAUL BALCERAK

Staff writer

Not many students get an award and a cash prize for completing a homework assignment. But that’s exactly what Margery Pulkkinen got.

The Olympic High School senior recently entered an essay contest held annually by the Association of Washington Generals as an extra credit assignment for her English class. Now she has a shiny new plaque on her wall and an extra $500 in her college savings account.

“I did it rather quickly, because I didn’t think I had a chance in winning. I honestly didn’t think I would ever hear about it again,” Pulkkinen wrote in an e-mail. “Then my English teacher called me a few weeks later saying I won, and was happily surprised.”

The first-place finish garnered her a plaque from the Washington Generals and $500 to be used toward college. She was presented with both at a recent pep assembly at Olympic.

“I think this is a perfect example (of) how it is definitely worth it to apply for as many scholarships and contests as you can, because a lot of people don’t hear about them or think they don’t have a chance of winning,” Pulkkinen wrote.

The Washington Generals received more than 450 essays from students across the state in three different grade categories: grades seven and eight, nine and 10 and 11 and 12. Pulkkinen’s was the only essay in any of the categories to win a first-place prize.

“Margery’s was so far superior than the others,” Washington Generals Executive Board Member Victoria Laise Jonas. “We were very impressed.”

The competition called for students to share their personal thoughts on how the future of the Internet could affect people’s lives.

Pulkkinen, who’s nearly online-abstinent when compared to her contemporaries, wrote about the apparent Internet-crazed society that’s emerged in the last decade-plus.

“Although (the Internet) has many benefits to simplifying our lives, it will also have many bad side effects,” Pulkkinen wrote in her essay. “As time continues, the disadvantages of the Internet will outweigh its advantages.”

Pulkkinen also cited child predators and rising obesity rates as drawbacks to Internet overuse.

“It is kind of true how a lot of people are going on the Internet and not doing much else,” she said. “I’m the only one I know of at my school that doesn’t have a MySpace page.”

She limits her Internet time to about an hour per day and tries to use library books as opposed to online sources for school projects. She also tries to spend more time outdoors than online.

“My parents always encouraged us to do other activities like sports, and I’m a dancer,” Pulkkinen said.

And what would her Internet-addicted friends have to say about Pulkkinen’s essay?

“They’d probably realize it’s true, but just don’t want to admit it,” she said.

The following essay written by Olympic High School senior Margery Pulkkinen earned her first-place honors in the essay contest held annually by the Association of Washington Generals. Pulkkinen received a plaque and $500 to put toward college.

Today, you are more likely to walk into a library and see students on the computer doing their research, than reading through actual books. Kids are getting more interested in playing video games and blogging than sports and outdoor activities. I remember the time when you would walk through a neighborhood, and see kids playing baseball in the streets and jumping on their trampolines. Now, this is a rare occurrence. The increasing popularity of the internet has played a primary factor in students’ lives, both academically and personally, and America will continue to grow more dependent on it than ever before.

For some time now, students have been relying on the internet for their class projects and research, and hardly ever pick up an actual book. This isn’t a very smart move, since the internet is more likely to have false information, than the book it came from. Students are already starting to write less and less. In the future, I wonder if we will stop handwriting in its entirety, and just type everything. In the classroom, teachers have already begun posting assignments online, and I think it will spread to tests, quizzes, and notes. This will automatically put families with low incomes that can’t afford computers at a disadvantage, and that disadvantage will only increase as the use of the internet for school becomes more frequent.

After a long day at school, students come home and go straight to the computer. When we were younger, many kids played video games online, but now websites like MySpace and Facebook have become increasingly popular and dangerous. Not only are kids susceptible to child molesters, but these websites are, in a way, addicting. Students are always going online to see if someone left a comment or posted a new picture. These websites are also a source for bullying and harassment. Schools have already experienced the effect these web pages can have on friendships and students’ academic performance. I can also see the obesity count in America rising from everyone spending too much time sitting down while using their computer, instead of going outside to exercise in the fresh air. People will become too dependent on the internet, and won’t be able to do anything or go anywhere without their laptop by their side.

All in all, the effect the internet has already taken on students will continue to grow as students become more dependent on its use. The way students go about their assignments and research projects, and the way they spend their down time will become more involved with the internet. Although this has many benefits to simplifying our lives, it will also have many bad side effects. As time continues, the disadvantages of the internet will outweigh its advantages.

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