The Maryville Optimist Club has chosen to participate in the Optimist International Essay Contest in 2024.

Recently, the Maryville club hosted their local essay contest. The purpose of this contest is to give young people the opportunity to develop their own views regarding something unique with regard to the world in which they live. Their approach can encompass a young person’s own personal experiences, the experience with their country or even a more historical perspective.

The topic selected each year by Optimist International is intended to give young people latitude to develop their own ideas around a central theme. In addition to the opportunity for written expression, the first place participant has the opportunity to compete for college scholarships at the district and international level.

This year’s theme was “Optimism: How it Connects Us.”

At the February 15 Maryville Optimist Club meeting, these winning entries were announced: first, Connor Blackford, senior son of Nate and Andrea Blackford; second, Alex Peck, senior son of Betty Jean Peck; third, Payton McGinness, senior daughter of Scott and Jayne McGinness. All three students are students in Nichole McGinness’ class at Maryville High School. There were 31 entries submitted for the contest.

The winners received commemorative medallions and certificates to show the club’s appreciation for their efforts and accomplishments. Blackford’s essay has been submitted as the Maryville Optimist Club’s entry at the district level of competition.

Judges for the contest included Optimist Club members: Lynn Beason, Trudy Kinman, Bob Bohlken and the Maryville Chapter of Missouri Writers Guild: Amy Houts, Sandy Wood, Lee Jackson and Bohlken.

Bohlken was the founding chairman of the essay contest and the late George Gille was chairperson for many years.