SPRINGFIELD — Senator Eric P. Lesser announced the winners of his first annual high school essay contest on Friday.

The winners were Kamran Noori Shirazi, who just graduated from Springfield Central High School, and Fiona O’Sullivan, who just graduated from Ludlow High School.

For the competition, students were asked to describe a community issue and an idea they had to fix it in 300-500 words.

Shirazi, in an effort to prevent high schoolers from dropping out of school, proposed a Springfield Tutoring Coalition, which would consist of student volunteers that would provide weekly tutoring sessions and emotional support to at-risk students in Springfield.

O’Sullivan, addressing the pollution and hazard to wildlife from the improper disposal of plastic bags, recommended a statewide tax or ban on the use of plastic bags.

Sen. Lesser congratulated Shirazi and O’Sullivan at his district office in East Longmeadow and presented them with official citations from the Massachusetts State Senate. They will also be awarded a State House tour.

“While pundits tell us there is so much apathy and lack of civic spirit in our younger generations, it was heartening to receive a flood of thoughtful and well-written essays from our high school students. Contrary to the naysayers, young people want to make a difference, and Kamran and Fiona are excellent examples of that trend,” Sen. Lesser said.

To further inspire youth political engagement, Sen. Lesser has introduced bills to encourage school districts to implement news media literacy and civics education programs, which have been cut from school curricula in recent years.

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