Inspire student wins 2021 Optimist Essay Contest

April 29, 2021, by Sandii Buckman

The creative work of Inspire students and alumni never ceases to amaze us, which is why we are always proud to share the good news when the hard work of our students is celebrated and awarded. Maya Klein, Inspire (grade) and Art/Humanities major, has made her mark in local writing this month, winning 1st Place in the 2021 Optimist Essay Contest sponsored by the Oroville and Chico Optimists Clubs. In addition, Maya’s winning essay was forwarded to compete in the next level: The Optimist International Pacific Central District Essay Contest, and was again awarded 1st place!

In this year’s local contest, 46 students, aged 11- 17, from twelve different schools in Butte County submitted essays with the theme “Reaching my Dreams by Choosing Optimism.” The top three winners received scholarship prize money, but only the 1st place winner’s essay was forwarded to the district level contest. Maya will receive a total of $2,800 in scholarship prize money from the Optimists’ two contests.

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We sat down with Maya to talk about her essay and her Inspire journey. Here’s the scoop…

*Let’s make the Questions Purple and a bit larger*

Q: What, and or who inspired you to write this essay?

A: My mom has always encouraged my writing as much as possible. She’s an incredible teacher and is always sharing writing opportunities like this with me. Her constant optimism was also a huge influence for this essay prompt!

Q: What was it like submitting your work to a competition like this? How did it help you grow as a writer?

A: This competition really helped me realize how attainable these writing opportunities are. I’m glad I can use my hobby of writing in broader experiences to reach more people.

Q: How has your relationship to optimism evolved through this experience?

A: I went into this essay with lots of pessimism regarding the pandemic, the current political climate, etc. It was very intriguing to find the silver linings through my writing and come away from the essay with a more positive and compassionate outlook on the future, and how to proceed with and find hope in social issues/justice.

Q: What’s your dream for life after high school? How has Inspire prepared you for that dream?

A: Inspire has really helped me develop my creative personality. The hands-on curriculum and art classes I’ve taken have greatly supported my dream of an artistic career after high school and have helped me realize how achievable those goals are! I’m also majoring in Art and Humanities, which have pushed me towards shaping my goals of what I want to do in college and future professions.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you have for young writers interested in sharing their work with the world?

A: Look for as many opportunities as you can to share your work! It’s easy to forget that there are so many programs and people who want to hear what you have to say through your creativity.


If you are interested in creative learning, Inspire may be the right school for you. Join Maya and our diverse student body by enrolling at our award-winning institution.

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