Philadelphia, May 14, 2015 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Dr. William R. Hite, Superintendent, School District of Philadelphia, announced the winners of ‘Students Speak!,’ a video and written essay campaign to encourage Philadelphia public school students to make their voices heard regarding the importance of full and fair education funding.  Video and written submissions had to complete the following prompt: “Fully fund my education because…”.  Submissions can be viewed on

“Too often the voices of the smallest members of our society go unheard, when their message can be the most important.  Students Speak! was an opportunity to allow young people from across the City to tell us, the adults, why they deserve a fully-funded education.  And, we must listen,” said Mayor Nutter.  “I want to thank all of the students who took time from their busy schedules to submit an essay and I want to encourage every Philadelphian to read and view these essays to see first-hand that these young people want, need and deserve a high-quality education.”

In total, Students Speak! received 342 submissions.  From those submissions, six winners were selected, a video and written submission from each of the following grade categories: elementary school, middle school and high school.

The winners are as follows:

  • Video essay elementary school: Lucas Beltran, 3rd grade, Cook-Wissahickon School;
  • Written essay elementary school: Mackenzie Weiler, 4th grade, Greenberg Elementary School;
  • Video essay middle school: Shane Boyle, 7th grade, Greenberg Elementary School;
  • Written essay middle school: Synia Boyer, 7th grade, Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School/String Theory High School;
  • Video essay high school: Xue Yao Zou, 10th grade, Central High School; and
  • Written essay high school: Sarah Santiago, 10th grade, Esperanza Academy (Grand prize winner).

“I am proud of all students who spoke up and spoke out on the importance of adequate school funding,” said Superintendent Dr. Hite. “As I continue my discussions with city and state lawmakers, I will keep their words and voices in mind. I congratulate our winners and hope this conversation will continue.”

The winning submissions were chosen by representatives from the Mayor’s Office of Education and the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service.

As the grand prize winner, Santiago will receive an Apple Watch.  Each of the other five winners will receive two tickets to the Philadelphia Eagles home opener for the 2015-2016 season.

The written essays will be featured in the Opinion and Editorial section of the Daily News, on and on theNewsworks Speak Easy website.  Winning videos will be posted on

Posted in mayors press release
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