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2023 Essay Contest

Finalist Essay entries for The Georgie Smigel Group 2023 Scholarship Award Program

Please vote for your favorite essay here:

Essay #1:

If I have learned one thing from living in Zelienople, it’s how much of a community we are. Although Zelienople is small, we sure do know how to come together. Every Thursday Main Street of Zelienople is packed with people, food trucks, and live music. During the summer I love to go into town on Thursdays to walk up and down the streets to listen to the music, try new foods, and walk into some of the small businesses that I have never been in before. I love having the ability and choice to meet up with some friends in Zelienople and go out for dinner at the multiple restaurants then go watch a movie at the Strand. Considering I have a younger brother, it is also enjoyable to walk down to the community pool and park to play for a little. Zelienople provides many possibilities for day-to-day activities that make me feel not only safe but also included. Although I love the town of Zelienople, my neighborhood is my favorite community. In my neighborhood we often have parties and gettogethers, not only for holidays but occasional parties for the fun of it. In my neighborhood, there are many little kids, so this also provides me with the opportunity to babysit and help the parents. Everyone in my community is willing to help and support each other in anyway possible. Maturing in this neighborhood has a young adult, has shown me that when I get older and decide to have a family of my own, I want to live in a neighborhood just like this. I want my kids to feel included in their community just like I feel every day. My community has also impacted my life because I feel safe to walk around alone which is important as a teenage girl these days which is incredibly unfortunate that it is something I should have to worry about. Although I now live in Zelienople, I originally grew up in Cranberry Township. I loved living in Cranberry because there is even more to do than in Zelienople. As a kid, during the summer my favorite time was the community days where there was a big carnival in the Cranberry Park. I loved how the entire Cranberry Township Community came together and not only made those days possible, but also made it inclusive for the kids. As an 18-year-old, I couldn’t have imagined growing up anywhere else and I wouldn’t change my childhood community for anything. Growing up in such a close and inclusive community has shown me that I want my kids to have this very same experience and feel safe just as I did.

Essay #2:


    I am very proud to say that I have lived in Zelienople for the past 15 years and cannot think of a better town. My house is located right in the middle of Zelienople so I had access to everything the town has to offer. As a kid, my favorite breakfast spot was the Country Kitchen where I would get the Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes. I loved biking to the Community Park right up the road, walking across town, and petting every dog I saw along the way. Like many others, I consider the Zelienople 4th of July Parade as the highlight of the year. As a child, I would wake up early and stake out the best shady spot to watch the event. The people that volunteer help out in the hot July sun to create a staple in Zelienople culture that is celebrated not only by myself, but by everyone that chooses to go. The music, the food, the people, everything about the day has a special place in my heart and are the reasons why I love living in my community. It has also inspired me to give back to this amazing community by volunteering to help out wherever I can.
    I have been a member of St. Peter’s Reformed Church in Zelienople for 5 years and have volunteered to help with Vacation Bible School and in the Church Wind Ensemble. As a musician, I have also volunteered my musical talents to the community on many occasions. For three years I performed in a group called EPIC (the Enthusiastic Performers In Christ). We held many concerts, plays, and sang throughout Zelienople for the community. My friends and I also organized a barbershop quartet named JET-C and we sang during the Fall Festival last year, performed Christmas Singing Grams throughout the community and had the privilege of singing at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Replica Closing Ceremony last year. I was even able to help out down the road by playing my trumpet at the Cranberry Township Memorial Day Dedication. However, this past summer, my greatest thrill was being able to be a part of the parade that inspired me by playing in the Resurrection Band. It was the highlight of my summer! And I am not stopping there! I plan to do all I can for the community I love for as long as I can.
    The Zelienople slogan is “A modern place with old-fashioned grace” and I think that applies perfectly to the community I live in. I don’t know what my life would be like without The Strand Spring on Main, or Baldingers. Even though these places don’t mean much to others, they are my childhood and mean home to me and are the reasons why I love living in this community. Thank you for considering me for the Georgie Smigel Group Real Estate Scholarship.

Essay #3:

The reason I love living in my community is because there are so many things to do. My community has helped my special needs brother. My brother just wanted to play baseball his own way. Then when I was little the Miracle League came to my community. Since opening day, the Miracle League has been a big part of my life and my family’s life. Once I was old enough to be a buddy for the Miracle League I did. This is such a rewarding part of my life. I get to help players do what they love best, play ball. I also take part in Raider Thon which all the money that is raised benefits the Miracle League.
Another rewarding part of my school community is that I did best buddies at school. I got to know this program because my older brother did best buddies. His best friend is his buddy from the best buddy program. I got to see how this impacted my brother’s life and I knew I could do the same thing for someone else. To be a buddy and make new ,friends is such a great feeling.
I have also volunteered for the Night to Remember Prom. What a great organization I got to greet all the prom goers. To see the smiles on all the prom goers just warms my heart. I get to see and route them on as they walk the red carpet. Knowing these special individuals get to have a wonderful time and a prom of their own is so wonderful.
Cranberry Townships light up night is a benefit of living in the township. This is Santa’s first stop. I go with my family to light up night every year. Even though my brother is an adult, he has special needs, so he still believes in Santa. I get to see the smile on his face and how happy.he is when he sees Santa on the stage. Since he goes to this event every year Mrs. Clause knows my brother by name. When she sees him and asks my brother if he has been good the smile on his face is priceless. My brother gets to see friends that he does not get to see daily as much. This is such a magnificent event to bring friends and families together. They have great activities to keep all the little children busy till Santa arrives on the fire truck. I could not have asked for a better community than Cranberry Township, not only to call home, but the community I was born and raised in.
Thank you for taking time to read and consider my essay for this scholarship. I hope to hear from you soon.

Essay #4:

My community has been a huge part of my childhood and a major factor making me who I am. The amazing sense of community, incredible public events, and remarkable school district are all reasons I love living in Cranberry Township.
The biggest reason I love living in Cranberry Township is the sense of community. Walking along my neighborhood sidewalks, I can expect waves and greetings from any neighbors cutting their grass, walking their dogs, or grabbing the mail. When my family and I lived in Richmond, Virginia, we had a few close neighbors. Here, all our neighbors are close to us. We trust all of them. The friendliness of our neighbors made the new community very welcoming and inclusive.
Public events added to this sense of community. I love going to neighborhood parties, which give me opportunities to meet neighbors from all over my neighborhood. Even more impressive are community events such as Cranberry Community Days, which is a huge summer festival held every year at Cranberry Park for our community and people all around our area. One of my favorite things about Community Days is socializing with people from school and around my community and going on rides with my friends. Towards the end of Community Days, there is a huge fireworks show for all in attendance. Events like Bingo and the delicious Pancake Breakfast bring the community together. It is an amazing community experience.
My school district has had a large impact on my knowledge, character, and social life. My social science teachers have fostered my passion for history, economics, and politics, the subjects I intend on studying in college. Even more than education, Seneca Valley clubs have helped me grow as a person. Just this year, I joined the Seneca Valley Academic Decathlon team. I had barely heard of Decathlon before my Senior year. When I heard an announcement for the first practice of the year and the intended subject, the American Revolution, I was intrigued and wanted to give it a try. This past weekend, in fact, we competed at the States Competition at Thiel College and placed second in Pennsylvania. Even though we didn’t win, Decathlon has helped me form new friendships, improve my speaking and interpersonal skills, and challenge myself to try something new and out of my comfort zone. I even won the gold medal for Economics which I am extremely proud of because I am passionate about the topic. I loved competing on that team with my friends; my Senior year wouldn’t have been what it has been without Decathlon.
My community has been a huge part of my childhood. It has made me the person I am today. I love living in Cranberry Township. The sense of community, township events, and amazing school district will always make Cranberry home.

Essay #5:

I would never have made it to the position in life that I am in now if it were not for the community that I live in. Cranberry township has had a major impact on my life because of the people and the culture that they promote.
I moved here when I was very young, so Cranberry has been the only community that I remember living in. Cranberry promotes socialism very heavily with how many events and I grew up in a very safe and beneficial environment because of the kids that lived there. I have made many lifelong friends in my neighborhood, and I am sure I would not have this many quality friendships if it were not for living in Cranberry township. They give support to many sports teams like baseball which really promoted me to try sports. I played in the Cranberry township baseball league, which benefited me in physical activity and gave me more means to meet new people.
Cranberry township has many great churches as well. I am a non-denominational Christian, and thankfully, there are many churches in the area that fit my families needs. The church I have gone to for the past 15 years of my life is known as Grace community church. I have grown a strong relationship with God and Jesus because of the Grace and the town it resides in.
Cranberry township will always be part of me because of how caring they act towards their community and residents. I would have never found out the things I like to do and who my actual friends are. Cranberry has made an infinite number of memories for me that I will never forget. The community I grew up in made me who I am today, and I do not know where I would be if it was not for the loving community that I grew up in.

Essay #6:

I love living in my community because it has given me opportunities to join clubs and make new friends. I hope to continue my education by attending Penn State University in Fall of 2023 and majoring in Data Science. My community gave me many resources I needed to learn and plan for my future. This is because Data Science is a major that involves a lot of Computer Science and Programming, which my High School offers. I am incredibly passionate about these subjects, and I believe that if I was not given the opportunity to take these computer science courses by my high school that I would not have discovered my passion for it.
In addition, my community has also given me friends and people that I can rely on for the rest of my life. Whether this be through my neighborhood or my high school, I have met countless other students with similar passions, interests, and hobbies. Clubs and sports have also helped me find other people similar to me. When I have problems or struggles, there are friends that I can go to and trust with anything I say to them.
My community has offered many volunteer opportunities which have made me a better person. In the past, I participated in an event known as Raiderthon, which is an event that is organized by Seneca Valley Student Council. My role for Raiderthon was to visit local businesses and encourage them to donate to the event. All of the donations made for Raiderthon went to Miracle League, so I attended a Miracle League baseball game to see the affect the money raised could have. Seeing the children with medical complications made me reflect on my own life and realize how lucky I am to be blessed with good health. It also opened my eyes to problems that many of these Miracle League Players face in their everyday lives, many of which I would not even understand. It made my problems seem so small and miniscule, something I never realized before. Since my volunteering activity at Raiderthon, I have actively tried to be more empathetic towards others. I try to treat others with more kindness and compassion. If I see someone that appears to be having a down day or who is not acting like themselves, I now make it a point to ask them how they are feeling and if everything is alright. The knowledge that many people have internal struggles that no one knows about was really brought to light for me by Raiderthon and Miracle League.
I am grateful to my community and the people around me for helping me with my past, present, and future. I believe that my community has had an extremely positive effect on me as a volunteer, as a student, and as a person altogether.

Essay #7:

One reason why I love living in my community is because of the diversity of people and the new opportunities that are presented every day. In my community there is not too many people who are the same and not a single person from a different household has the same life story. Many people move from other places into this community in order to live a better life than they have before. This creates a community that includes many different people from various areas. Everybody in my community is very friendly and always has a smile on their face. If a person is in need, another community member will never hesitate to help no matter the situation they are in themselves. For example, a person in need of money might donate to a certain cause that is for the benefit of somebody else. The reasoning for this is because the people in my community have warm hearts and put others before themselves.
My school has had an impact on my life by helping me become a better person and by guiding me towards what I want to do in my future. School has taught me how to respect others, care for one another, and make hard situations easier. These traits have allowed me to form close relationships with others and have created opportunities in my life that I never would have thought imaginable. This includes pursuing technical education in college and allowing me to go for a cheaper price than the normal rate. Through everything that school has taught me, I am able to gain education in a career that will make me happy and set me up for life.
The benefits of living in my community that I personally experience is the ability to play sports whenever I please and the ability to be safe in my community. In my community there is a park called Graham Park that has almost every outdoor sport one could imagine. This is a personal benefit of mine because I enjoy playing sports of all kinds and it is very accessible to me so that I can stay active and enjoy my time outdoors. Another benefit of my community is that I know that I am safe in almost every place I go. The reason why I can feel so safe is because my community has a strong police presence and majority of the homes in my community have cameras at their doorstep. This assures that I am safe inside and outside of my home, giving me full confidence to do what I desire in my community.

Essay #8:

As the sign on the local elementary in my town says, “E.C. ~ Everybody Cares!” What I value about living in Evans City is that you don’t have to look far to see that most everybody truly does care about our community. People are friendly and take time to talk and most importantly, listen to others. It is a place where neighbors help neighbors. The experiences that I have had in my hometown have impacted my life and inspired my future career goals.
A billboard prominently displayed in my community says, “Ace is the place with the helpful hardware folks!” That is the jingle I often hear at my part-time job at the Evans City Hardware Store. My job has given me the opportunity to meet members of my community and has introduced me to new ways that I can volunteer to give back. I have always valued the honorable efforts of our nation’s veterans. In order to honor their memory, I have volunteered by placing flags on the graves of those who have served and have retired the flags after they have served their purpose.
My future career goals of majoring in Environmental Science in college were fostered by the experiences I have had in my community. Listening to the radio, I heard a broadcaster once say, “Just because something isn’t your fault, doesn’t mean it isn’t your responsibility.” Recently, I have noticed an increase in scattered garbage along the roadside in my neighborhood, either from windstorms or new developments being built. Even though I didn’t do the littering, what I learned in the scouting program as I earned the rank of Eagle Scout, along with my concern for the environment have taught me to leave things better than I have found them. I grabbed a garbage bag and headed out the door. If everyone does a little … no one is left doing a lot.
Additionally, I have always valued the honorable efforts of our nation’s veterans. In order to honor their memory, my community organized an opportunity for volunteers to place flags on the graves of those who have served and have retired the flags after they have served their purpose. This was another benefit of living in my community. The involvement of young people is encouraged. Youth are encouraged to lead and become active members of society. As it has been written, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Having Evans City as my hometown has impacted me in a positive way. People of Evans City are down to earth and relatable. They support and encourage each other. E.C. continues to be a great place for me to live. I am proud to call it my home. Moving forward, my goals is to continue to give back to the town that has given to me.

Essay #9:

In the small town of Evans City, it would be easy for someone to see limited potential. A town with about as many businesses as stoplights whose claim to fame is a zombie movie filmed in the area over fifty years ago. Maybe a good place to stop for gas on the way to Butler, but not much else to see. However, if you should stop at one of our two gas pumps, you’ll notice a small, quiet library across the street.
When I was young, I wanted to do everything my older brother did: ride a bike, go to school, and, of course, win the summer reading contest at Evans City Public Library. Each week, my brother and I would drag our mother to the library to check out as many books as possible, marveling at the prize baskets atop one of the bookshelves. We’d return last week’s reads, which the kind, sincere librarian always asked us about. This year, I was going into first grade and tearing through children’s books at the speed of light. My brother was reading chapter books at this point. They were short children’s novels, but I found the lack of pictures, abundance of words, and triple digit page numbers daunting. One week, as we returned our books, the librarian held on to one of my brother’s novels, setting it aside. When it came time for us to check out our new reads for the week, she placed that book in my hands. I tried to give it back, saying I couldn’t read it, but she insisted. Eventually I gave in, taking the book home.
That day was the first time I can remember being told that it’s okay to try something new and not be good at it right away, a lesson that would become important throughout my life. Those few words of encouragement would push me to learn, grow, and become not only a better reader, but a better learner, and a more open-minded individual. In the end, I didn’t win first place in the summer reading contest, but I got a lot more than a prize basket out of my expenence.
Helen Keller once said, “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” This quote concisely communicates why I love my community. Our communities provide some of the greatest teachers, mentors, and friends that life has to offer. Although my community may be small, I wouldn’t trade the people I’ve met, the guidance I’ve been given, or the experiences I had for anywhere else. Seemingly small, insignificant interactions, like what the librarian did for me that day, are what build communities. By supporting the library, I found my own support. The value we find in our communities is reciprocal to the value we ourselves bring. My community is much more than just a small town. My community is a place where, alone, you may struggle, but together, we succeed.

Essay #10:

I believe living in the community of Cranberry Township, PA provides a sense of belonging, support, and enrichment that is unparalleled. I love living in Cranberry Township because it provides a safe, supportive and welcoming environment. I am proud to say that I live here.
My school, Seneca Valley, has made a tremendous impact on my life. My teachers have instilled a love of learning and a desire to make a positive impact on the world. I also had the honor of representing my school district playing for the ice hockey team starting in middle school and into high school.
Our community has everything you could want, restaurants, parks, sport fields, dek hockey rinks, ice hockey rinks, a community center, a community pool and a library. We are fortunate to have a community with the funding to maintain all these community amenities. The library offers many free events that I have participated in over the years. The community center has a senior citizen center, a preschool, and a gymnasium. I attended preschool there and have attended birthday parties held in the gymnasium. Cranberry Township also has a strong sense of community and offers Community Days that allows the neighborhood to get together and celebrate all that makes the community great – including the Cranberry Cup softball tournament of neighborhood communities which rallies together to help some neighbors in need.
In conclusion, living in Cranberry Township has been a wonderful experience. The benefit of living here includes an ideal location, numerous parks an_d recreational facilities, excellent schools, and strong sense of community. I enj.oy having a feeling of safety and security and having a sense of pride in being part of such a supportive and caring community that I call home.

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