opinion Newport Rhode Island

The Newport Historical Society’s essay contest, Big Ideas for a Changing World: Write Your Way to Hamilton, had a record number of entries this year. Just over 100 high school sophomores wrestled with the question: What is happening in your community, or could happen, that has the capacity to change Rhode Island or the world?

The responses are a snapshot of what young people are observing, worrying about, and thinking regarding their futures. Essays address issues that might have been torn from the headlines: safe food and the environment, clean energy, sexual consent, education, mental health, the drug crisis, guns, automation and coding, diversity and the recognition of minority contributions to our shared American heritage.  This year in particular, some students chose to suggest that simply by paying more attention to the ideas and concerns of young people, we might all change the world for the better.

Winners, drawn from each Rhode Island County, and sponsoring teachers will travel to New York to see Hamilton, An American Musical, in May and will be celebrated at a reception at the Rhode Island State House later this month.

Winning essays were compellingly argued, addressed a problem, and identified a solution that was innovative, potentially effective, and connected to our Rhode Island communities. Each is among the best that was submitted on the topic chosen.

Winners are:

Sophie Amore, Toll Gate High School, on the importance of water safety.

Leslie Campbell, Middletown High School, on the cost of higher education.

Ethan Corriveau, North Smithfield High School, on civics education.

Ilaria D’Andrea, Narragansett High School, on access to arts education and careers for lower income students

Amy Flynn, Middletown High School, on engaging teens as a way of inoculation against self-destructive behaviors.

Eytan Goldstein, Barrington High School, on recognizing the histories of Native peoples and those of African descent.

Alex Lavoie, Coventry High School, on investing in robotics and technology.

Phoebe Maranjian, Classical High School, on the power of youth.

Elain Sheinkopf, Barrington High School, on understanding sexual consent.

Kallie Urbach, Narragansett High School, on access to clean food.

Abigail Votta, North Smithfield High School, on making education more relevant to student interests.

There will be an essay contest by the Newport Historical Society in 2019. Details will be released soon.

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.