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2024 Essay Contest

The 2024 Georgie Smigel Group Essay Contest!

VOTING IS NOW CLOSED!

Essay #1

What sets Cranberry Township apart and a reason I truly love living here is its strong sense of community and neighborly spirit. Neighbors look out for one another, offering help and support whenever and wherever it is needed. This sense of community is unmistakable, and it fosters a deep sense of belonging and connection between the residents.

A way in which the community pride and spirit is evidently shown is through the Seneca Valley High School sports teams. I have been a member of the girls basketball team, softball team, and the track and field team during my time at Seneca Valley. It is truly an amazing feeling to have so many members of the community come out and support me during home sporting events. Community members that I have met at the YMCA, neighbors, administration from school, many teachers, coaches, and of course many friends and family made their way into the stands to support my teammates and me. I have felt this community support not only in the last four years at the high school level, but also my entire childhood growing up in Cranberry Township. Growing up, I participated in basketball at the Cranberry Municipal Center, soccer at North Boundary Park, lacrosse at the YMCA, and softball at Graham and Cranberry Community Parks. Since these opportunities available to me and many other young kids, it made me feel like a valued member of the community even at a young age. To me, it is the spirit of togetherness and support for one another that makes me love living in Cranberry Township.

Another way I have felt supported in my community was through my senior project. For my project, I chose to create raffle baskets that raised money at a 5k race for brain cancer. At first, starting with these raffle baskets was a daunting task. I started off by visiting local businesses in the area and asking for their support. I was very pleasantly surprised with how eager our businesses were to help me. With offering support and a high response to my senior project, I was able to create a total of 37 raffle baskets for my race. These baskets raised over $4,000 for brain cancer research, and I could not be more thankful for the community support I received in the process. Whether rallying together to support local causes or lending a helping hand to those in need, residents of Cranberry Township embody the values of compassion, kindness, and generosity.

Living in Cranberry Township my whole life, I have been given so many opportunities. I am blessed to now be able to return the favor to the community that has helped me to grow as a person by giving back to the younger generation and those in need. I am proud to surround myself with the amazing people living here, and I am grateful to be able to call Cranberry Township home.

Essay #2

My time in Cranberry Township began in 2018 when my parents decided to purchase one of Georgie Smigel’s listings. Some of my favorite things about Cranberry Township are that I benefit from are the wide assortment of places to eat and shop, the spectacular fireworks displayed each July at the Community Days, the Lemieux Ice Rink, the YMCA, local parks and more.

Moving to Cranberry Township provided me the opportunity to join the terrific Boy Scout troop, Troop 403. Troop 403 has taught me so many skills that I will utilize to be successful in life such as leadership, perseverance, effective communication, teamwork, life skills and the importance of service to the community. In achieving my Eagle Scout rank, I choose to give back to the community that I appreciate so much. My Eagle Scout project consisted of repainting, repairing, and a replacing 10 park benches with all new wood, hardware, and paint in Cranberry Community Park.

What I love most about Cranberry, is the Seneca Valley School District. I have had some of the most amazing teachers that have supported and helped me grow so much as a person. You could tell some of my teachers truly enjoyed what they taught and wanted to inspire us to be equally passionate about the subject. My guidance counsellor has been so supportive in helping navigate the necessary steps in the college process. There is a wide variety of curriculum offered to students which has been wonderful. I’ve taken some intellectually challenging courses as well as some life skill building classes such as Electricity and Personal Finance. The Seneca Vally football program was another opportunity that made a huge impact on me. The coaches and my teammates were a key part in developing important traits such as self-discipline, grit, resilience and lifelong memories.

Essay #3

Growing up in Harmony, Pennsylvania has shaped the man I am today. The community has been so kind to me, and I have see the many benefits associated with living in this town. The amazing school, tight-knit people, and great opportunities to succeed are what makes Harmony so special. I did not get to choose where I grew up, but I am glad I got to be a kid in this town.

The area is the perfect suburban region. I live thirty minutes from a big city and get to experience the benefits of that such as sports, entertainment, and shopping. However, I am far enough away that I am not trapped with all the negatives that come with the city. I get to attend a great high school and play sports in an area that loves high school athletics. Seneca Valley as a community loves to support the student athletes. I twas such a special experience to run out on Friday Nights and see my neighbors, friends, and family cheering me on. Not to mention, Harmony is a kind area. The community embodies helping their neighbor. As a kid, I remember going and shoveling elder neighbors’ driveways without asking for or receiving money. That is what Harmony is. We are taught to help people because it is the right thing to do not because we desire compensation in return. Seeing the benefits of having people by you who will help you when you need it taught me the value of living in a strong community. This area has made me kinder to others and showed me the value of helping your neighbor.

The Seneca Valley School District has given me many opportunities to succeed. The school is large yet has the feeling of a community where everyone knows each other. Having a school with the resources of Seneca Valley is a blessing. The classes offered cover every job, degree, and career possible. I have been able to learn about many different careers and know what I want to do because of the opportunities to take a wide range of classes. The benefits of a big high school with many resources are extraordinary. The impact this district has had on my life is immense and I am grateful to be a future graduate of Seneca Valley.

This place will always be home. I plan to raise a family here, build a career here, and grow old here. I have seen the benefits of raising children in such a kindhearted area and know the wonderful opportunities larger high schools provide. The people are what make this town so special. They are kind to each other and jump at each opportunity to help. The people and place I live in have created the person I am today. I want to travel and experience the world, but I know I have found the best spot to raise a family in.

Essay #4

What’s not to enjoy about my community? I moved to Seven Fields from eastern Pennsylvania when I was eleven. Although I was really upset when I initially learned that my family and I were going to move, it couldn’t have been a better experience. I have most enjoyed the people I have made connections with. Through my various activities, I have expanded my interests and shared special moments with the members of my community.

Keeping active in past activities has been a wonderful way to stay in touch with people. After graduating 8th grade at Saint Kilian Parish School, I returned over the summers to assist my previous musical teachers and young peers in designing and building sets. One of my most memorable moments was participating in musicals while in middle school. I found real pleasure in being able to return and contribute to the production of their shows.

During my high school career, my love for musicals inspired me to join the Hair and Make-up Crew of the Seneca Valley High School Musicals. By participating in an area that is a hobby of mine, I was able to meet elementary cast members, highschoolers from different grades, and various teachers from our school community. The Seneca Valley High School production is a small community of its own in which we create a safe environment to develop our passions. Simultaneously, we reach out to nearby communities for support, and invite audiences on an imaginative journey through the viewing of our musicals. As the student leader of the Hair and Makeup Crew, I expanded my leadership skills by gently directing my peers when work needed to be prioritized.

Singing has been a large part of my life, starting with the children’s choir of my church and more recently, the Seneca Valley Madrigal Singers. We have performed throughout the community in locations such as elementary schools, retirement homes and for various holiday events to name a few. I have been impacted by the positive response after each performance. It is heartwarming to know that a group of highschoolers can impact others while sharing a passion for music.

In addition to singing, I have a deep interest in the field of physical therapy, and I owe it to the wonderful care I received from my physical therapist Natalie Novak. My intrigue led me to volunteer in the rehabilitation department of UPMC Passavant Hospital to gain hands on experience in the field and use the insight for my final senior project. I met various therapists, talked with patients, and assisted in their therapy sessions. I have never felt a stronger sense of community and nurturing than during my time volunteering at Passavant Hospital.

By helping others through my treasured activities and interests my community has not only given me a sense of purpose and belonging but has also helped prepare me for my future.

Essay #5

I have had the pleasure of living in Cranberry Township for the entirety of my lifetime. With a multitude of opportunities presented within this community, I have flourished in the environment that has been fostered by community members. The impact of Cranberry Township has prepared me for academic excellence, provided various service opportunities, and strengthened key relationships. I have been so lucky to grow up in this area, where I never have had to worry about safety or security. The sense of belonging and the connections I have made will only grow as I flourish with the fundamentals set in stone by Cranberry Township.

The school system within Cranberry Township met all of my academic needs, while challenging me with harder concepts. Attending school here for seven years, I formed amazing relationships with all of my teachers and peers. Through Haine Elementary, I was placed into the Gifted program in the district. Without this placement, I would have not been able to experience different interest groups, finding my love for law. After leaving Haine School, I was never a stranger to this building. I frequently volunteer at the elementary and middle school classrooms, speaking to them about the importance of inclusion and leadership. Being able to teach these children has instilled a sense of purpose in me and formed lasting connections. Haine School in Cranberry Township has been my favorite school that I have attended, and many of my peers can stay the same. 

Within Cranberry Township, the job opportunities are endless. As a teenager, I decided to find employment at the Cranberry Township Waterpark. After working as a concession’s attendant for one year, I was promoted to the manager of the concession stand at 16 years old. This was the youngest age of a manager at the Waterpark, and I was extremely grateful for the trust given by my superiors. Working at the Waterpark for the past three summers has taught me customer service skills, expanded my knowledge of food safety, and formed amazing professional relationships. I can confidently say that this opportunity has prepared me for the workforce in many aspects, all because of Cranberry Township.

Living in Cranberry Township for eighteen years may seem stagnant to some, where I do not want to change my location. However, my family chose to live here due to the various opportunities that are placed ahead of the youth in my community. From volunteer opportunities, job placements, and academic resources, Cranberry Township has prepared me for all possible pathways I choose to walk down. I am proud to live in Cranberry Township, and I can’t wait to give back to this wonderful community when I become successful as an adult.

Essay #6

There is no better place to grow up than in Zelienople. From a young age, I knew this town was special. It’s the place where you can walk to the park, the library and the elementary school safely by yourself – even at a young age.


It is walking to the pool to meet friends every day in the summer and meeting those same friends on the sled riding hill in the winter. It is sitting on the curb on Main Street to watch the 4th of July parade and then sitting on your porch roof that night to watch the fireworks As well as listening to the neighbor’sband performing in their front yard. It is drinking out of the lion’s head and walking into the neighbor’shouse without having to knock. It is making sure you get to the Easter egg hunt before 11:00 because itwill be over by 11:05. It is knowing that the Christmas parade goes the opposite direction of the 4th of July parade so that Santa can end at his house.


Ultimately, it is neighbors looking out for neighbors and everyone looking out for the community at large. It is knowing that when my mom was sick, we never wet hungry and felt supported by everyone. It is getting a cup of sugar from “the neighbors” to bake cookies. Zelienople has shown me the importance of community – the people, not just the place. These are the people, the relationships, and memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I hope to one day raise my own family here in Zelie.

Essay #7

Cranberry Township has been an amazing place for me to grow up and spread my wings. I have had so many opportunities to try different things and interact with people here in so many ways. When I was a tiny child, my parents took me to the municipal center in Cranberry Township to the take arts and crafts classes and gym classes with other children. I had this change to meet and play with other toddlers well before I even entered preschool.

The parks in Cranberry Township are such wonderful facilities for sports of all kinds. My preschool best friend and I would come to Cranberry Park to play in the “Castle”, eat lunch, and play on the sand volleyball court. As I grew, I learned about North Boundary Park. I played soccer for SVSA for countless years, swam in the North Boundary Park Pool while my older sister was a lifeguard there, and went sled riding down the hills at North Boundary. I have enjoyed the disc golf course with my friends, and have walked the trails there, I don’t know how many times, with my parents and family down through the years. I have run up and down the hills there as part of preseason ice hockey workouts as well.

At Graham Park, I have played in countless “Soccer Fests” since the age that I was able to play, and my younger sister still comes back from college and referees games. I have played dek hockey on the new rink made in collaboration with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Graham Park has even given me the opportunity to share my love of sports by helping young children who would not normally have the chance to participate in the game of baseball. I have been a “Buddy” for the Miracle League that was built in partnership with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

I was given the change to experience my first job in Cranberry Township at Fun Fore All Family Fun Park. While I am operating the rides at Fun Fore All, I am able to interact with other young families, and I am responsible for their safety. It provides me with another way to show my appreciation for where I live by giving of my time and showing people how much this area can truly be fore all. It brings back pleasant memories of my own childhood birthday parties I enjoyed so much.

From all the activities I was involved in growing up in this community to now experiencing a different side of the area as a responsible adult, I have seen so much that this area has to offer. My younger sister has been fortunate to be able to work at MSA in Cranberry, a well-known and well established place of business in our area during the summer months while she is home from college. Cranberry township is a place like no other. It offers a true sense of community growth, from birth to adulthood.

Essay #8

As one of the safest and prospering towns in the country, Cranberry Township has provided me with opportunities, experiences, and support that have led to my personal and academic growth. The township Parks and recreation department provided me with my first jo through the local waterpark, where I learned vital life skills of leadership, communication, and accountability. I have met some of my best friends through this job, and each shift I showed up hoping to help patrons of the waterpark make the memories I used to make as I went down the big blue slide as a child. The library gave me a place to spend hours reading, bringing books to life. Events held at the municipal center and township park marked my calendar each year. I won my first pet at Cranberry Community Days and refused to let my parents hold Waffles, my new goldfish, for the rest of the day. The Seneca Vally School District provided and challenged me to take advanced classes. I was provided with the resources to succeed inside and outside of school, as Cranberry Township filled up my resume that I sent off to colleges around the United States.

Born and raised in Cranberry Township, my family has moved twice, but never outside of the zip code 16066 where so many memories were made. The perfect blend of new stores and housing with the historical value of long-running small family business provides a society and future that is stable for current and prospective residents. This community has fostered a sense of belonging and connection between is citizens. There is a level of trust, pride, and spirit that is difficult to be found in small towns elsewhere. As a kid, I was able to go outside, take a bike ride, follow forest trails, and run around parks without my parents being overly worried that I would not return home. The safety and security among and between residents provides children the ability to venture places they have never been before and gain new understandings of the world around them. 

Leaving for college in a few short months is certainly a daunting undertaking in my future, and I will miss many physical aspects of Cranberry Township, such as the monkey bars at the township park, the trail through the woods behind my house, or my favorite employee at the local ice cream shop, but I will always have with me the memories made and lessons learned in this community. As much as my car will be packed with clothes, pillows, and appliances as I head off to college, I will also be leaving with a love and appreciation of the town I grew up in that, through good times and bad, supported me with all I needed to succeed.

Essay #9

If you step outside the front door of your house in the small town of Zelienople in Western Pennsylvania, you will hear young children running around and playing, birds chirping and singing their sweet songs, neighbors saying hello as they pass each other on the sidewalk, and majestic church bells ringing every hour. Each of these sounds, along with the unique sights and smells, reveal the nature of a loving and supportive community. I have been lucky enough to live in this special town with my parents and younger brother since I was born, and I couldn’t imagine growing up anywhere else.

There are numerous aspects of Zelienople that I have loved since I was very young. The community park and playground right down the street from my house was so much furn as a child, and having several small neighborhood streets around my house allowed for hours of time spent bike riding around the blocks with my brother. I attended Connoquenessing Valley Elementary School for five years and was often able to walk home with my mom from school. 

Another benefit of living in Zelienople is the ability to walk to many special events on Main Street. Activities and events such as Horse Trading Days, the 4th of July Parade, the Christmas Parade, the Fall Festival, and the Halloween Parade are so much fun and even more enjoyable when we are able to walk to them. Along with the special events occurring in town, my family and I appreciate the ability to shop, eat at unique restaurants, enjoy an ice cream cone, or see a show at the Strand, all within walking distance, Overall, there are countless reasons and benefits why I have loved living in Zelienople throughout my childhood and why I’m so grateful to live where I do!

Furthermore, residing in the community of Zelienople has immensely impacted and shaped my life. Living in a small town where block parties and get-together frequently occur gave me the opportunity to spend time with my neighbors and made me realize the immeasurable significance of the community and unity. Everyone in Zelienople knows each other, and this has made me discover how much I love and appreciate the “small town feeling”. My dad grew up in Zelienople as well, so many people still know him and our family. When walking through the streets of our town, neighbors will often stop to talk to us, which has accustomed me to being more friendly and outgoing. Living in Zelienople has improved my ability to be more open when meeting new people and communicating with them. Additionally, the numerous churches within the town have greatly influenced the faith-based atmosphere among the community. Growning up with people around me emphasizing and encouraging my Christian beliefs has led me to have a stronger relationship with God. All in all, my community of Zelienople has had an exceedingly valuable impact on my life, and I hope to be considered for the Georgie Smigel Group Real Estate Scholarship.

Essay #10

Although I was born in Ohio, my roots run deep in Cranberry Township, PA. My father and his two sisters were born and raised in Cranberry and are all proud Seneca Valley graduates. I have had the privilege of growing up with my five cousins here in the township. We are not the only family that has called Cranberry Township home for generations. It is a place that people choose to settle and raise their families or like my family return to.

I remember my mom being sad leaving behind our small community in Ohio. She worried that we were going to lose the small-town feel. My mom was wrong. Although Cranberry is twice the size of our old community it is ever bit as tight knit, welcoming, and friendly. Neighbors become friends and support and celebrate one another. You can rarely visit a store or park without seeing someone you know and even strangers say hello. I am proud to live in a place where people support others in their community by raising money for less fortunate families during the annual Cranberry CUP, celebrate Cranberry and our nation at Cranberry Days, and volunteer their time with the Miracle League based in Graham Park. 

Aside from the amazing community members that make Cranberry so special, it has amenities galore within its borders. Shopping, delicious restaurants, and plenty of parks including walking trails at Graham Park, the Cranberry Township Waterpark at North Boundary, and the Kids Castle playground at Cranberry Park. You can even watch the Penguins practice at Lemieux. There is something for everyone in the township.

If you ever exhaust all the possibilities of activities and amenities in Cranberry Township proper, it is just a short drive to reach the city of Pittsburgh. You can’t miss the beautiful bridges and rivers that meet right by Acrisure Stadium and PNC park. The possibilities really are endless. Sporting events, theater, restaurants, museums are all at your fingertips. There is so much to explore. 

I’m grateful that my parents chose to return to Cranberry Township when I was in kindergarten. My great grandmother always used to say, “Remember who you are and where you came from.” This community has made me a better person and has given me opportunities to learn, work, and grow. I am surrounded by teachers, friends, and other citizens who also have deep roots here in Cranberry Township. Some people may move away to go to college or pursue a career, but many come back home to live and serve in the community that made us who we are today. That is what makes Cranberry Township so very special.

Essay #11

Zelienople, with iths small-town feel, has been the best place to grow up. Being able to walk into town, feeling safe, and seeing familiar faces brings a sense of community. Whether you are walking down Main Street, making a candle at Scentcerely Yours, swimming in the pool, or eating dinner at Shu Brew, everyone is so nice and welcoming. While touring colleges, I experienced many towns that were nowhere close to the close-knit feel of Zelienople, and I’ve realized how appreciative I am for my childhood home.

Everyone looks forward to summer, but it’s extra special in Zelienople. I look forward to our town festivals and Open Air Markets. I love supporting our small business while making long lasting memories with friends, family, and neighbors. Similarly, I’ve been very fortunate to work for two great small business in our community. While I’ve had some experiences in corporate companies, nothing compares to working for community businesses where they care about you and create special relationships. I’ve worked three seasons at a local ice cream store and have worked for a year at a newly opened candle store. These experiences warm my heart and inspire me to give back to my community like the great role models I have worked for. Your community is more than a location. It’s the people that really make a difference.

Our community school, Seneca Valley, has been the foundation of my personal and academic growth. The dedicated teachers, diverse student body, and a curriculum that encourages critical thinking have collectively contributed to my academic development. Every single teacher since kindergarten has gone above and beyond to help me learn and feel included. It is clear that the teachers at SV care about their students more than just test scores. I have learned everything from basic addition and how to read, to calculus, biology, and analyzing texts. But more than that, I have learned how to communicate to others, get out of my comfort zone, and build friendships. Our school district has shaped me into a well-rounded individual prepared for the challenges of the future.

Additionally, I have been provided numerous opportunities for extracurricular activities. Seneca Valley has countless clubs, sports, and other after school activities that allowed me to explore my interests, develop leadership skills, and form lasting friendships. From science to honors society, to track and field, and supporting my classmates by going to musicals, each experience extends beyond the classroom, enriching my life with a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

It is hard to imagine growing up somewhere that doesn’t have these things and I am truly grateful for the instrumental role my community has played in shaping the person I am today.

Voting is now closed!

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