Student’s essay wins Optimist Club of Issaquah contest

March 23, 2010

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Issaquah High School’s Matthew Hertogs, 17, has been selected as the winner in the Optimist Club of Issaquah’s essay contest.

This year members asked high school students to build an essay around a theme, The Internet: Today’s Evolution or Tomorrow’s Menace?

Hertogs’ essay was chosen for its originality, voice and well-balanced and argued viewpoints, said Paul DeMars, a spokesman for the club.

He “took a topic which could easily have caused a writer to submit a slanted piece,” DeMars wrote in an e-mail. “Instead, he not only gave each side its thoughtful credit due, but he made his point in the historical context that most technological ‘leaps forward’ cause a societal rift between those ‘…who are inclined to flaunt the efficiency and convenience of the new invention while others tend to criticize the deviation from traditional values that the ‘advancement’ seems to encourage,’ Brilliant!”

Hertogs’ use of language also stood out above the pack, DeMars wrote, adding, “I had to look-up the adjective ‘deleterious.’”

However, DeMars said all of the essays the club received were well written, making the decision hard.

Hertogs’ essay will move on to the club’s district level. If the essay wins at the district level, it will move to international competition, DeMars said.

At both the district and international level, students can win college scholarship money for their essays, part of the reason Hertogs said he entered.

Hertogs said he thought he won because “it was able to analyze and qualify both sides of the argument, and it was not just some sweeping over-generalization.

“The way that I approached this particular essay was that I did not decide my position on the issue until after I had gathered the information I would use in the essay,” he said in an e-mail. “I think it is important to handle questions with an open mind.

Hertogs said it wasn’t his experience with technology that caught the judge’s eyes.

“I am not particularly knowledgeable about technology, but I do not think that was the point of the essay entirely,” he wrote. “The conflict addressed in the essay is rooted in the fundamental theme of change versus consistency, and I personally believe that change is necessary and beneficial to society.”

Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or Comment at

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