Martha’s Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative essay contest

Tallula Brodsky, a senior at MVRHS, is spearheading an essay contest that asks students why diversity is important to them.

“Why is diversity on my Island important to me?” is the essay question that students across the Island will need to answer in 500 words or less, as part of the Martha’s Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative (MVYLI) essay contest that kicked off Wednesday, November 20.

Marianne Larned, the MVYLI executive director who helped form the organization to inspire, educate, and empower young people to take initiative in their lives and on their Island, said this week she is delighted with the goals of the essay project.

“A lot of times when you think about sustainable development, you think about the environment, and you think about the birds and plants we eat, but we also include the people,” Ms. Larned said. “Because you need people to be educated about the issues and have them build a better world and have sustainability last for another seven generations.”

Tallula Brodsky, a senior at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) is spearheading the essay contest, visiting schools and speaking to students across the Island.

“I grew up in a family where you never look at people differently because of the color of their skin,” Tallula told The Times. “So for me, it’s really important that all the different cultures on the Island be viewed equally and be given a chance to show what they have to offer. This idea was inspired as a way that we can unite those groups.”

The quality of each essay will be measured by how well the question is addressed, whether the essay is well-written, thoughtful, insightful, memorable, or inspiring. The deadline for the contest is February 15, and the winners will be announced at a multicultural community event in April.

Marcy Klapper, a resource teacher at the West Tisbury School, said essay writing is a way for students to practice their writing skills and explore a topic that hits close to home. “What’s great about this prompt is that it’s so personal, not just for the student, but also personal to the Island,” she said. “Just the idea that’s there’s this group of students trying to incorporate multiculturalism and bring this sense of awareness, I think that’s the most significant part of the (MVYLI) program.”

For more information about the essay contest or MVYLI, visit All entries must be typed and emailed to no later than Friday, February 14.