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Local student a finalist in national competition

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Kerri J. Widrick, a ninth-grade student at Faith Fellowship Christian School, won $1,000 for her school with a question to the U.S. president.

The 15-year-old student was one of six finalists in the McGraw-Hill’s Networks “Enter the Debate” national writing contest.

“I was completely shocked,” Kerri said. “All my classmates had submitted essays.”

Ninth-grade English teacher Amanda L. Marshall found out about the contest, in which students were to ask a question of President Barack Obama or former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney while the presidential debates were under way.

The finalists and grand prize winner were announced in late January to coincide with the inauguration.

“I played the debates for them and we talked about it,” Mrs. Marshall said. “I’m really impressed with her for winning the contest, especially because it was a seventh- through 12th-grade contest.”

Kerri’s essay was in response to the U.S. Embassy attack in Libya and asked how the president would keep future attacks from happening abroad or at home. She said she wanted to choose a topic that was discussed in class.

“I’m getting older, and what they’re doing is going to affect me more,” Kerri said. “We didn’t know a lot about what was going on, and (U.S. officials) wanted to keep it that way. How they’re going to react to those attacks on our country would play a huge part in who I vote for.”

Now, months after she wrote the essay, she does not expect there to be a definite answer to why the attack occurred.

“There are no definite answers to things like that, because attacks like that aren’t happening all the time,” she said. “It’s more for the peace of mind.”

Donna G. Widrick, Kerri’s mother and a sixth-grade teacher at Faith Fellowship, was just as shocked as her daughter when Kerri was named a finalist in the contest.

“Both my husband and I were excited,” Mrs. Widrick said. “She’s always been a very good writer.”

Although Kerri did not receive anything herself for winning the competition, she is happy to have won the money for her school.

“It helps me, because it helps my school, so I was pretty excited to do that for them,” she said.

To see Kerri’s question, visit www.networksenterthedebate.com/contest-winners.

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