Why Character Matters Essay Competition

Congratulations to Our Top 20 Finishers!

1st Place: Lauren Rishovd

11th grade, Elk River High School, teacher Denise Green

2nd Place: Sophia Kruger

11th grade, Elk River High School, teacher Denise Green

3rd Place: Bashir Muhumed

11th grade, Southwest High School, teacher Caroline Hooper

4th PlaceEmily Sizen

11th grade, Elk River High School, teacher Alyssa Ray

5th Place: Amanda Krinke

9th grade, Buffalo High School, teacher Rachel Busch

6th-20th Place

6th Place Jared Leslie, 10th grade, Cloquet Senior High, teacher Jason Richardson

7th Place Milan Stolpman, 11th grade, Washburn High School, teacher Molly Koppel

8th Place Miranda Cox, 11th grade, Mabel-Canton, teacher Bonnie Wenthold

9th Place Kerryn Lund, 10th grade, Brandon Evansville High School, teacher Robert Bosma

10th Place Sophie Wu, 9th grade, Woodbury High School, teacher Erika Jungwirth

11th Place Camden Sharp, 10th grade, Spectrum High School, teachers Amy Kinney & Stacy Pinz

12th Place Kalahari Szarkowicz, 9th grade, Washburn High School, teacher Nicky Sunde

13th Place Chia Thao, 11th grade, Highland Park, teacher Michael Burgdorf

14th Place Keleenah Yang, 11th grade, Como Park Senior High School, teacher Risa Luther

15th Place Lindsay Popp, 11th grade, Pierz Healy High School, teacher Derrick Paulson

16th Place Ashlyn Bohrer, 9th grade, White Bear Lake North Campus, teacher Shannon Grant

17th Place Sinaam Mohamed, 11th grade, Columbia Heights High School, teacher Jessica Ortiz

18th Place Fatima Menawa, 10th grade, Stillwater Area High School, teacher Brandon Maxwell

19th Place Donovan Eidem, 10th grade, Spectrum High School, teachers Amy Kinney & Stacy Pinz

20th Place Evelynn Szakatits, 10th grade, Spectrum High School, teachers Amy Kinney & Stacy Pinz



BestPrep and sponsor Thomson Reuters will invite the top 20 Minnesota high school student essay winners and their respective teachers to attend the Educational Forum on October 24, 2017 at the Saint Paul RiverCentre. Included is a private evening reception with the Education Forum’s keynote speaker, former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice and NFL Hall of Famer Alan Page, before the event begins. No more than 3 winners will be selected from the same school.

1st place: *13” MacBook Air

2nd place: iPad Air 2

3rd place: iPad Mini 4

4th place: Beats Solo 3 Wireless Headphones

5th place: Google Home

The top essay winner will also receive the “Kristie” Award in honor of long-term dedicated BestPrep volunteer Kristie Greve. The remaining 15 winners will each receive a $50 Walmart gift card. Educators representing the top 5 students will each receive a $100 VISA gift card.


In conjunction with essay sponsor Thomson Reuters, we are excited to again offer an essay competition for Minnesota high school students in conjunction with the BestPrep Educational Forum. The Forum is a biennial event launched in 2008 to explore topics of current relevance for business and education. This year’s essay prompt challenges students to take a deeper look into the role of character development in their education. The top 20 student winners and their respective teachers will be invited to a celebration reception with the Educational Forum keynote speaker Alan Page at the event on October 24, 2017.


Essay Prompt: In 600-750 words, we would like to hear how Minnesota students respond to the following prompt:

Martin Luther King famously wrote: “Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” Why is it important for students to develop their character alongside academics? How has your educational journey and life experiences developed your character?

The student will use the quote and two questions above to anchor their thoughts as they explore the role of character development in education. They are encouraged to use outside sources (books, articles, speeches, videos, etc.) and their own personal experiences when writing this essay. They are not required to reference Alan Page or other texts from Dr. King, however BestPrep does provide some optional resources that they may use if desired.


Contact Jonathan Filzen at jfilzen@bestprep.org or 763-233-6322