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Nine students were recognized and awarded cash prizes in Kenosha, WI during a special presentation for their essays that reflected on women’s suffrage and the effect it has had on them and the world over the last 100 years.

The essay contest was sponsored by members from the Kenosha Community Foundation Women’s Fund and the Susan B. Anthony Award Committee. The contest commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote. Congress passed the amendment on June 4, 1919, and it was ratified by states on Aug. 18, 1920.

The contest was coordinated in June and open to students in grades 3 to 12 attending public or private schools or who are home schooled in Kenosha County. The committee selected the top three essays at the elementary (grades 3-5), middle and high school levels.

Honored during the brief ceremony were: Joshua Cao, Casey Christiansen and Grace Eltoft — who were the first, second and third place winners, respectively, in the high school division; Genesis Goodman, Maggie Salmon and Lily Smith — first through third place winners, respectively, at the middle school level; and Isabella Foltz, Heidi Wright and Ellie Drissel — first through third, respectively, at the elementary level.

“Congratulations to these young people. They have a bright future ahead of them,” said Becky Matoska-Mentink, representing the Women’s Fund and presenting the awards.

She said the committee considered more than 50 entries, with the winners receiving the highest combined scores from members tallying results from both the organizations.

Joshua Cao, 16, of Pleasant Prairie, who won the first-place award in the high school division, said that, in researching his essay, he noted the roles of women activists not only as suffragists in the early 1900s, but also into the civil rights movement, as well.

“Their influence affects me in the way it continues to affect the world today,” he said, referring to women’s activism in the Black Lives Matter Movement, among others.

“I think that, especially with the events in the world that have happened recently, it’s important to realize that just like how women weren’t equal back then, people still have these inequalities right now,” said Cao, who attends Indian Trail High School and Academy. “What the women have really showed us is that, through their movements, they really can foster change and create the world they want to live in.”