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Round 3 of the KWHS Comment and Win Contest Delivers Storytelling at Its Finest

It had been a long, full week for the KWHS team. It all started on Monday, August 6, with the KWHS Investment Competition launch and an Innovation Day for 18 visiting high school students from China, followed by days of studio interviews, team meetings, endless email chains, social media brainstorm sessions, editing and posting articles, all culminating at midnight on August 10 with the deadline for Round 3 of the 2018 KWHS Comment and Win contest. How could we tackle one more assignment at the end of this busy week? And yet, more than 25 comments from high school students around the world demanded our attention and evaluation. So, we dove in during the next few days, immersed in the threads of creative, business-minded commenters who embraced the Round 3 storytelling theme with enthusiasm and flair. They wrote about everything from artificial intelligence and internships to leadership and summer jobs, weaving personal stories with insight, reflection, opinion and humor. If anything, the captivated KWHS team wanted more!

Great job to all the commenters in Round 3 of the 2018 KWHS Comment and Win, which was our first time including a storytelling theme, an idea suggested by recent high school grad Aneesh Shinkre, last year’s Grand Prize Comment and Win contest winner.

While all of this round’s comments added value to their related story topics, a few did not follow the storytelling theme. The strongest were those comments that seamlessly incorporated personal stories, while also persuasively communicating their ideas and arguments. We were looking for a blend of both approaches.

Congratulations to Stephanie Cook, the overall winner for Round 3. Stephanie, 16 and a junior at Fort Worth Country Day in Fort Worth, Texas, U.S., came out swinging in the article Career Insight: Advice from New York Stock Exchange President Stacey Cunningham. Her well-expressed Taekwondo experiences were emotional and a powerful backdrop for her reflections on the opportunities that come from failure, as well as equality in the workplace. We appreciated how Stephanie continued to revisit aspects of the article and her story throughout her comment.

We had several runners up this round, each of whom was a top contender for a variety of reasons – but most of all, for detailed and effective storytelling. First up, Chinese student Bowen Zhang for his commentary on the game Detroit: Become Human for the KWHS article The Allure of Artificial Intelligence. Bowen’s exploration of AI through personal gaming and his reflections on the topic, as well as those of his friend Jac, represented strong storytelling through the use of personal experience – ultimately with a goal of understanding technology better. Max Wang, 17 and a senior at St. Mark’s School of Texas in Dallas, Texas, U.S. (the overall winner in Round 1), dazzled us with his comment on the appropriately named KWHS article Storytelling Infuses Your Message with Meaning and Emotion. Max made a compelling and well-written argument that technology does not hinder true connection, supported by all the ways he stays connected with friends and especially with his grandparents in Shanghai, China. Technology, he added, is also a platform for storytelling. Our next impressive Runner Up was Varun Sangal, 17 and a soon-to-be senior at the Union County Magnet High School in Scotch Plains, N.J., U.S. We loved reading about Varun’s experiences working as a bank teller (depositing $42 worth of pennies into a cash machine!) and all the ways his position helped him appreciate The Value of a Summer Job. Our final Round 3 Runner Up is Ícaro Bacelar, a senior at Colégio Farias Brito in Fortaleza, Brazil. Ícaro delivered a multi-layered message on the power of storytelling by recalling his own moment having to incorporate personal experiences into a presentation that ultimately helped invigorate his communication style and charm the audience.

Round 3 Honorable Mentions go to Mikhal Ben-Joseph, 17 and a senior at American Heritage High School in Plantation, Florida, U.S. for her Model UN-colored comment on the article 5 Leadership Lessons from the Israeli Model Titi Aynaw; Sydney Nixon, 17 and a senior at William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia, Pa., U.S., for her travel experience-inspired examination of meal portion size in response to the article Big Gulp: New York City’s Soda Ban and the Battle over Sugary Drinks; and Carl Ji for sharing his personal programming prowess and AI insights on the KWHS article Prolific App Developer Michael Royzen Plans for a Future in College and AI Innovation.

Thanks to all the commenters for making our first storytelling round a memorable one. The best stories show us experiences, they don’t just tell us about them. Details strengthen your message.

We’ve arrived at our fourth and final round, which kicked off on Monday, August 13 and lasts through midnight on Friday, August 31. In Round 4, we’re back to anything goes! You can comment on any KWHS article, podcast or video at kwhs.wharton.upenn.edu with whatever style you choose. Share this competition with your high school friends and family and encourage the educators in your life to get their students involved. The more robust the commenting threads, the fiercer the competition.

Questions? Feel free to contact the KWHS team.