Area Students Win Library Foundation Contest

The West Palm Beach Library Foundation hosted a reception Monday, April 8 at the Mandel Public Library to honor award winners of its inaugural essay contest.

The theme of this year’s competition was literary censorship, inspired by the foundation’s recent exhibition, “Banned and Burned: Literary Censorship and the Loss of Freedom.” It featured a traveling exhibition from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on book burning in Nazi Germany.

More than 100 high school students throughout Palm Beach County participated in the contest, and four received awards. Brady Alter, a junior at Seminole Ridge High School, won the 11th- and 12th-grade category. He was awarded the top prize of $1,000. Savanna Rodgers, a senior from William T. Dwyer High School, took second place and received $500. In the ninth- and 10th-grade division, Seminole Ridge High School sophomore Tyler Perry won first place and received $500. Lauren Gayoso, a freshman from Wellington Christian School, came in second and received $250. Each of the winning students’ teachers was also rewarded with a gift certificate to purchase books for their classroom libraries. The awards were underwritten by Barbara Sommers and Sandy Myers.

“We want to commend all of the Palm Beach County high school students who entered this contest and wrote such profound, thought-provoking essays,” said Laurel Baker, essay contest chair. “It was exciting to receive such an overwhelming response in our first year, and we hope that the students gained a deeper understanding of the importance of freedom of speech. We thank the Palm Beach County School District, and the principals, media center directors and teachers throughout the county who helped support this initiative.”

Launched in November, the essay contest encouraged students to explore the history of censorship in the United States, the book burnings that took place as part of the Nazi movement and the First Amendment rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. They were required to read a book from a list of books banned from cities and states across America and discuss how the book influenced them and why it should be protected from future censorship.

For more information on the West Palm Beach Library Foundation, and opportunities to support future events, call (561) 868-7715 or visit


Above: (Front row) Brady Alter, Tyler Perry, Lauren Gayoso and Savannah Rodgers; (back row) WPBLF Chair Bob Sanders, Vice Chair Lyn Harris, Immediate Past Chair Sandy Myers and Essay Contest Chair Laurel Baker.