CASS LAKE (AP) - A Cass Lake teenager has won the top honor in a national essay contest with his account of how a local afterschool program inspired him.
The Afterschool Alliance named Isaiah Buckanaga, 15, the winner for grades 5-8 for the essay he wrote last year.
The alliance sought essays from youth describing the ways afterschool programs have inspired them. The contest attracted entries from youth in afterschool programs across the nation.
Buckanaga, a ninth grader at Cass Lake-Bena High School, has been a member of the Boys & Girls Club of the Leech Lake Area in Cass Lake for almost a year. In his essay, he described how joining the club changed his life.
"I never went to a place like the Boys & Girls Club because I never really cared for others but myself, but now going over there has changed that; now I care for others," Buckanaga wrote in his essay. "The Boys & Girls Club has taught me different realities in life."
These realities, he continued, include how to say no to drugs, step up for what's right, never be afraid to express himself to others and know there is good in life.
"So these things are what changed my life and I will always have a place to go after school to hang out and have fun," added Buckanaga, who noted that he enjoys playing basketball in the club's gym.
As the winner, Buckanaga received a $1,500 savings bond from the Afterschool Alliance and a leather-bound writing journal and pen set, intended to encourage him to continue writing throughout his life.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.