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Barry Schrader


I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website each week and be added to the archives.

The Articles started December 2007.


If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

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Essayists look toward adulthood

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................March 27, 2012

Each year, young people of middle school age in DeKalb County are invited to write an essay on a theme selected by Oak Crest DeKalb Area Retirement Center. This year’s topic was “The adult I would like to be: How my growing years are preparing me.”

I listened while the three top winners read their essays the other night and came away impressed with this upcoming generation. They expressed themselves well and each had their own vision for the life they want to lead.

Third-place winner Rachel Frances, an eighth-grader from Indian Creek Middle School, readily admitted she may face a few bumps in the road. “I might not get into the college I want, be hired for the first job I get interviewed for.”

Each year, middle school students in DeKalb County write an essay on a theme selected by Oak Crest DeKalb Area Retirement Center. The winners of this year's contest are (from left) first-place winner Anna McComb, second-place finisher Nicolas Inocencio and third-place finisher Rachel Frances. (Barry Schrader photo)

But, she added, “This is life. In order to get far, you have to fight for what you want.”

She explained this means studying hard, choosing high school courses carefully and looking toward what it takes to get into the college you want to attend.

Rachel also wrote that some people say high school decides your life, but she felt “that is not true, for it is you who decides your own life.” And she adds there will be many choices to make, temptations to overcome but “my job is to make the right decisions.” I think she is on the right track.

Second-place winner Nicolas Inocencio from St. Mary’s School in Sycamore wrote about moving here from another state and his “little bubble called childhood popped.” But he soon saw that there were “billions of those bubbles all around the world” and each town matters to its inhabitants.

He pointed to an epiphany that occurred in seventh grade when a teacher disciplined him, which he thought was unfair because the other student involved was not punished. Later, she explained that “the world isn’t fair and get used to it.” This took him aback, but then he realized she was right and he had to concentrate on getting on with his life.

“Life may be short, but it’s the only life we’ve got,” he wrote. “We need to make it count.”
I had interviewed the first-place winner about a year ago when she won the same essay contest with a different theme. She is Anna McComb from Indian Creek, and this time she wrote about becoming a good citizen and the ways she can help her town, the nation and the planet in general. She specified always being honest, following the law, getting involved in government by voting and serving on a jury, volunteering for fundraisers and “planning something great.”

Her choice of the Anne Frank quote, “The final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands,” was particularly insightful. Anna’s talent for writing should bring her back next year as an eighth-grader with another strong entry.

These kids are well on their way to a successful adulthood.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115