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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Exchange Club Essay Awards

Uploaded: May 26, 2015
Well after shooting my mouth, er Blog, off about the First Amendment to the Constitution, I was drafted into being a judge for the Exchange Club Essay Scholarship Awards. This was a heavy responsibility. I was probably more nervous than the contestants.

I printed out the essay requirements from the instructions on the SR Exchange Club website and used them to create a "Feedback Form," similar to the ones I use for grading assignments in my University of Phoenix classes.

I emailed a copy to Donna Kerger, just as an example of a rating form I use in my classes, and she adopted it, point breakdowns and all, as the Exchange Club Essay Assessment form, which she sent to me and the other two judges.

The other evaluators were the presenters at the preparation session, Cheryl Cook-Callio and John Murphy. So I was in lofty company. I didn't want to mess up.

We were emailed five essays to evaluate. The entries were identified by number only. I didn't know who wrote them, which school they attended, their grade level, or gender.

After reading all five essays and filling out the Feedback Forms, the top two were very close, but one was clearly the best. I emailed Donna and the other judges my order of finish. I was pleased, and relieved, that the other two came up with the same order. So it was conclusive who was first, second, and third.

Karen Stepper wanted to announce the awards at the Exchange Club Luncheon on May 13th. I was leaving for Maine shortly after judging the essays, and would not be back until May 14th. Donna said it would be OK to miss the lunch because the actual checks would be handed out at the City Council Meeting on May 26th.

After I got back from Maine, Donna reminded me again that the Awards would be handed out this Tuesday. I said that gives me the opportunity to dress up, which I don't often have these days. So I put on one of my nicer dresses with a matching hat I bought at last year's Art and Wind Festival, and was ready to go, but I couldn't find my car keys.

I found two sets of Maverick keys but no Focus keys. I drove the Focus to Walgreens yesterday, but I couldn't remember where I left the keys. It was almost 7 pm and I had to leave to get to the meeting so I drove the Maverick.

It drove and handled like a dream, but other cars kept passing me. I was doing 40 mph, which is the speed limit on Alcosta, but they still passed my Maverick as if I was driving a Model T.

I got to the old City Hall, passing the new one under construction on Bollinger Canyon Road. That will be very nice once it is finally finished, but that's a subject for another blog.

I parked in the empty lot across the driveway (or street?) from the old City Hall. I didn't want to take a chance of my newly painted Maverick getting dinged.

I crossed over to the meeting, expecting the small seating area to be full. It was filled up but there were some empty seats. Donna was sitting in the back near the door where she usually sits. Ken Mintz, representing AT&T which funded the Awards, was sitting next to her. A gentleman sitting with them offered me his seat. I didn't recognize him, so I apologize if I should have. I have been very forgetful lately.

There were several presentations on the agenda ahead of the Essay Awards. Caroline Lee gave a presentation on the Teen Council, which was very impressive. Then Caroline was given a proclamation as outgoing teen member of the Parks and Community Service Commission, and then all outgoing members of the Teen Council were recognized for their service.

Then Karen Stepper and Donna Kerger went up to the Dais to announce the winners of the Exchange Club Essay competition. I went up and sat in a chair next to the Dais. I was introduced as one of the judges. I commented that the quality of the writing by the top three was very high.

Then Donna surprised me by giving me a Certificate from the Exchange Club for my contributions to the Essay Competition. Donna said they received nine entries, which she attributed to my posting the video of the Preparation Session on YouTube and my blogs on the competition. I was totally surprised.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by John, a resident of Canyon Oaks,
on May 27, 2015 at 6:23 am

Thanks to Roz for explaining how they choose the essay contest winner, it is truly helpful information for me as for future competitor. The information on rules for writing essay I found at (a link to a cheat site, deleted). I think that samples on that web page can help the students, even if they do not order final essay.

Posted by Harry S., a resident of San Ramon,
on May 27, 2015 at 10:18 am

Roz- That was a fine hat you were sporting last night.

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on May 27, 2015 at 2:27 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

Thanks Harry,

That's my dressy hat. I put it on for special occasions.


Posted by Conservator, a resident of Danville,
on May 27, 2015 at 6:50 pm

Roz - I strongly encourage you to delete any postings which offer, as a service and/or product, to produce a manuscript. While I doubt that any of us are shocked by what means school aged individuals and their parents may resort so as to propel their child 'forward', it seems to me that on a piece dedicated to scholarly review for post-secondary academic studies, it should not be cheapened by such rubbish. Those kinds of sites can easily be found with a morally devoid Google search. It does appear that there is likely a group of paid hacks who will provide those links within a context of really bad English, on this site in particular, with the perspective that there are individuals amongst us with more money then morals who might actually be willing to give them $$$.

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on May 27, 2015 at 7:44 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.


Thanks for catching that. I have been deleting links to "paper mill" websites. So many of these are cropping up it is hard to keep track of them.

The judges in this competition ran a "Plagiarism" check on all of the entries. One came in with 20% taken from a website without any citations or references. One of the judges wanted to disqualify it, but that paper was not in the top three so it wasn't necessary to disqualify it.

These new "writing services," sell original papers (maybe), so they would not appear in a search. It is becoming more difficult to prove deception. When I use the Plagiarism Checker at University of Phoenix, two students who purchased the same "original" paper, will match almost 100%. So it isn't foolproof.

What students are not getting is the importance and value of being able to write well. Buying a paper, whether for a competition or a class, will not help in the long run when they have to be able to write a proper business letter or report.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on May 31, 2015 at 12:44 pm

I have no idea what constitutes a "proper letter". However I love to write and read stories about racing cars, guitars, ukuleles, white witches and drones.

I have 2 small drones but one is broken and the other one needs a better batteries. I'm about to take a long walk with 4 friends and 3 dogs and cat.


ps I don't believe that there will be repub. for president in 2016...they'll all just a bit off their rockers! hahahahahah...all the way home!

ps It seems to me that lots of folks are ticked off at Ahmadi because she knows how to take charge and get a comfy salary.

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