(January 8th, 2021 — Jersey City, NJ) Explore Middle School 7th grader Alison Turok received honorable mention in the Peace Islands Institute 10th Annual Art and Essay Contest.
Peace Islands Institute aspires to facilitate a forum of ritual respect and collaboration, welcoming and accepting varied viewpoints with the intent to develop original and alternative perspectives on vital issues within our society and generate solutions, support, and education on these issues.
The theme of this year’s content was “Solidarity in the Middle of a Pandemic”: examining how a tragic pandemic can bring the best out of people. Students in grades 6 through 12 throughout the state were welcomed to enter the contest by submitting an essay, a piece of original art, or both.
7th grader Alison Turok submitted her essay “Unstoppable Together”. Throughout her 4-page essay, Turok describes the highs and lows of the past 8 months of quarantine and is open and honest about the different emotions she has experienced. In the narrative, she credits her mother’s calming reassurance for her ability to find hope when she was feeling her lowest.
“Suddenly, through the darkness, I heard my mother’s calming voice. Months earlier she
had told me, ‘When bad things happen in life, you can’t let them stop you. You have to focus on the good things and fight to keep them. You have to be unstoppable.’ Those words had helped me keep things in perspective when the pandemic first hit. But now, after months of quarantine, somehow I let that perspective slip away. Thinking back to that conversation, I knew I needed to wipe the tears away and be strong.”
“We are super proud of her and so thankful for all the teachers who guide her at Explore,” Turok’s mother, Rita Kaul, shared.
This isn’t the first time Alison has received accolades for her writing. In May, she placed 1st in the Hudson County Counselor Association Middle School Essay Contest.
Principal Allyson Krone shared her pride in Alison. “I am so happy that Alison took advantage of this opportunity to express her various emotions during this difficult time. At Explore Middle School, we make every effort to encourage students to participate in activities that help them express themselves, whether it is journal writing, speaking to someone at school or home, or participating in a statewide competition such as this. Congratulations to Alison not only for your recognition in the contest but also for being proactive and sharing yourself with peers from all over New Jersey.”