Senior writes for ‘merica
An essay about the Constitution transformed into college funds for senior Farid Saemi.
The essay started as an assignment by AP Government teacher Felicia Hayes.
“I assigned an essay about the relevance of the Constitution today,” Hayes said. “This essay topic was also the topic for this year’s VFW scholarship.”
More than 50,000 high school students in the country entered the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Voice of Democracy contest. They competed for more than $2.3 million in scholarships and incentives.
Although every student in Hayes’ class did the assignment, Saemi was the only one who submitted his for the scholarship program.
“All social studies teachers were given the scholarship to present to their students,” Hayes said. ”My students were not required to enter the contest, it was optional.”
At first Saemi struggled with what to write about, Hayes said. With little inspiration, she tried to help him find something he could better relate to.
“Farid would ask me ‘I don’t know what to write about,’and so I gave him guidelines, and he thought of his own story,” Hayes said. “Then it just went from there.”
Saemi began by comparing the Constitution to concrete, created by the Romans almost 2000 years ago.
“The material is as relevant to us as it was to the Roman Empire,” Saemi wrote. “On a fundamental level, the Constitution provides the legal underpinning for the United States Federal Government—just like concrete provides the foundational support for structures.”
He focused the bulk of his essay on political freedom.
“It was a good [topic] to write about, because of my background,” Saemi said. “I come from a country [Iran] that’s not politically open so it was very easy for me to compare here and there.”
“Through national elections mandated by the Constitution, we the people of the United States essentially have an orderly and peaceful revolution every two, four, or eight years—depending on our opinion of Congress and the president,” Saemi wrote.
With all of his relatives still living in Iran, Saemi and his parents keep up with current events and things going on in Iran, making him aware of similarities and differences between here and other regions of the world.
“I pay very close attention to news in Iran. I like to think of Iran and America as parents that have divorced,” Saemi said. “Their children desperately want them to reconcile, so we look for every opportunity to rekindle their old relationship.”
Though Saemi wrote about differences and similarities, he wrote on a much broader scale. The example of Iran got Saemi to form an opinion on how relevant the Constitution was hundreds of years later.
“I wish everybody involved could take a chill pill and realize that we all just want to live happy and productive lives,” Saemi said. “We immigrated to America just for that reason.”
Saemi’s essay almost didn’t get submitted to the scholarship contest.
“Farid brought his essay after school the day it was due. He thought that the due date was for me and not for the VFW hall,” Hayes said. “Farid was not sure if he had time to take it there that night, because of other obligations, so offered to take it for him.”
In December Saemi won $1,250 in total from both the local and regional competitions, and an additional $1,500 from the state level.
“Winning the scholarship both in the local and in the regional contests for the district was cool,” Saemi said. “I was 16th [at state], and they give that money directly to the college of my choice. I’ve gotten into UT, A&M, and I’m waiting on Rice and MIT.”
Saemi said he was glad he participated in the VFW scholarship program.
“When I talked to Ms. Hayes I thanked her for making me write the essay, and I thanked her for letting me know about that scholarship,“ Saemi said. “I felt honored because I won that, it was a nice thing.”