Nonfiction and historical fiction and biography, from The Boy in the Striped Pajamas to All the Light We Cannot See. And oh, how ludicrous it sounds, but I was proud. Proud of my empathy, proud of the superficial sadness that would string through me as I read of death camps, putrefaction and squalor and the persistent family-torn-apart motif.

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This year’s winner of the Lawrence Alan Spiegel Scholarship is Hermon High School Valedictorian Neily Raymond. Neily serves as Editor for both Key Club and Student Council. She is heavily involved in performing arts, participating in the Hermon Theatre program and Chamber Choir. In addition, she is a member of National Honor Society, the Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor society, and is a three-star thespian in International Thespian Society. She has been named one of two 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars for the state of Maine. Neily will attend the University of Maine in the fall, where she plans to double major in English and Music.

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It was just a couple of months ago that I sent a sample of my DNA to Ancestry to discover more about my ethnicity. As I dropped the box containing my DNA into the blue mailbox I expected that the results would confirm what I already knew. I was Italian and English.

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In a society that opts to build walls to solve our problems, I opt instead to share how my Muslim neighbors are family to me. The sentiments of today’s day and age are parallel to those of the Holocaust and its reprehensible outcomes.

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