By Daniel Kokoski
Piedmont Hills participated in ESUHSD’s (East Side Union High School District) 2017 Cesar Chavez contest, choosing sophomore Midori Izu for first place and junior Eileen Thai for second place. The district will host the award ceremony on Mar. 30 in the Mount Pleasant High School Theater.
“The prompt really spoke out to me, so I decided to enter the contest. I interpreted the quote as having the courage to stand up for others that can’t speak out for themselves,” explains Eileen.
This year’s quote is, “Perhaps we can bring the day when children will learn from their earliest days that being fully man and fully woman means to give one’s life to the liberation of the brother who suffers. It is up to each one of us. It won’t happen unless we decide to use our lives to show the way.”
“Cesar Chavez said that we have to stand up for each other, so I wrote about the Muslim ban and how people have to stand up for immigrants, because someday they might need someone to stand up for them,” describes Midori.
Participants are required to apply Chavez’s quote to contemporary society. The entries are scored based on factors such as how well they interpret the quote, their originality, and their content. The district grand prize is $500 while the first place prize of each school is $100.
“The contest is not like an essay that a teacher assigns because it’s much more free-form than that,” clarifies English teacher Nancy Kennett. “The judges are looking for the spirit of the quote from Cesar Chavez, and they’re looking for who can address that the best.”
The competition is in honor of Cesar Chavez, an American civil rights activist and labor leader. Chavez laid the foundations for the United Farm Workers of America, and improved working conditions for farmers through nonviolent protest. He was one of the few that actively spoke out against labor injustice and stood up for laborers across the nation. The purpose of the contest is to assess students’ interpretations of Chavez’s words, and how the students would apply his legacy to society today.
“The judges are asking the questions ‘Is Cesar Chavez still relevant today? Do kids still understand why he was important? Are they still applying his legacy to life today?’” says Ms. Kennett.
Because of his indomitable nature as he strived for workers’ rights, Chavez’s deeds remains an iconic inspiration to many people today.