Three St. Pius X High School students were first-place winners in the 12th annual University of St. Thomas/Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Essay Contest.
Senior Sophia Suico, junior Kathleen Blute and freshman Conor Neely earned top honors in their grade, and four additional St. Pius X students garnered awards at a Mass and awards ceremony on Jan. 11 at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.
Blute wrote her third consecutive first-place essay for the contest. She also placed first as a freshman and a sophomore. Freshman Nina Martinez was awarded second place for her essay, while sophomore Audrey Murdock was a third-place winner. Senior Olivia Selby and freshman Lucy Bastell received honorable mention.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, celebrated Mass and shook hands with all the winners, and gave each student an antique iron key. Students were then greeted by Dr. Julie Vogle, superintendent of Catholic schools, and Dr. Dominic Aquila, University provost, who provided UST star pins. Suico and Blute also received a $2,000 scholarship to UST, if they choose to enroll.
The essay prompts chosen by SPX’s first-place winners included the image of the waiting Christ (Suico and Neely) and describing a person affiliated with the School that demonstrated faith, knowledge and service (Blute).
A total of 6,116 Catholic school students—third-graders through high school seniors—wrote essays for the contest, sponsored by the UST Office of Catholic Outreach. Out of all the essays submitted, schools selected finalists for each grade level, and 517 essays were read and ranked by 79 UST faculty members, staff members and alumni, who chose the winners. The essays of all first-place winners were enlarged as posters and put on display at a reception that followed the awards ceremony.
The essay contest helps to demonstrate the benefits of Catholic education in the Archdiocese.