Rachel Bang, high school student and thrift store regular, took the top prize in Round 4 of the 2019 Comment and Win.

It’s a Wrap! The Round 4 and Grand Prize Winners for Our 2019 Comment & Win

As we continue to buy and throw out clothes at rapid rates, the amount of textiles ending up in already brimming landfills also continues to grow. A single garment alone can lie in a landfill for over 200 years.

In Round 4 of the 2018 Comment and Win contest — during which student commenters had to identify a compelling sentiment from a KWHS story and explain why they considered it provocative — we found the above quote inspiring!

Congratulations to Rachel Bang (the author of the quote), this year’s Round 4 winner, for her response to Elvis Zhang’s quote, “Be curious and observant. Be present and observe how people are occupying a space, how they’re behaving, and what problems you see. I grew up in China and started realizing that I didn’t see blue skies anymore. I started wondering what the root problem was for that. I started doing research and trying to figure out the reality. Do your own research, be independent, and figure out the reality. Then you can start exploring solutions, either through science, design, policy, media or entertainment. A lot of people should start thinking about it and working toward a better, urbanized future.” Rachel, a senior at Valencia High School in Placentia, California, U.S., clearly connected with Elvis Zhang’s mission and his passion to improve air quality in his native China. She blended personal storytelling, research, observation and authenticity in a well-written and concise comment about her own eco-conscious discoveries and goals. Let us know when you make your impact on the world, Rachel!

The first runner-up is a familiar name to this year’s competitors. Arpan Bagui, winner of Round 2 and Round 3, comes in a close second to Rachel with his response to Fiorella Riccobono’s quote “I believe that we have a very limited definition of what constitutes an advantage” on the KWHS article A Student’s Struggle to Speak English Leads to a Career as a Communicator. Arpan writes beautifully about his own immigrant experience, saying, “From the shy, timid student, to the debater representing the USA, I had an improbable triumph of my own. As I found my voice and people listened, I realized that the cultural barrier I thought was inhibiting me was empowering me.” We appreciated learning more about Arpan’s personal story and his perseverance as a debater and communicator, especially given his consistently excellent expressiveness in this year’s contest.

“One of the only certainties of my one-year stay in India was the arrival of a Dabbawala at our bungalow at precisely 8 a.m. in the morning. Even in the harshest of conditions, when the local train system had come to a standstill, you were certain to see a Dabbawala standing at your door.” — Aaryan Sharma, 2019 Comment & Win Grand Prize Winner

Many of this round’s Honorable Mentions go to other consistent commenters in this year’s competition. The KWHS team has relished reading so many insightful and inspiring comments since we kicked off the 2019 Comment and Win on June 24. We’ve said it before: It’s a highlight of our summer. Congratulations to the following students, who deserve honorable mentions for their Round 4 quote-inspired reflections:

  • David Peng, a senior at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois, U.S. (a 5-time commenter this season), for his interesting response to a quote from the article, Tackling Texting While Driving.
  • Edward Chen, a sophomore from Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora, Illinois, U.S. (an eight-time commenter this season), for his response to Mikaila Ulmer’s quote on the article, Get Your Lemonade, Here!
  • Phalguni Miraj (a 7-time commenter this season), for his response to Billy Swann’s comments in the article, A Platform for Selling Art and Pursuing Dreams.
  • Hriday Tulsiani, a senior at the Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Mumbai, India (a 12-time commenter this season), for his response on the article 5 Truths about Microfinance.

We’d also like to give shout-outs to two other thoughtful eight-time commenters, Jehil Mehta, a senior at Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, and Xinyu Liu, a 9th grader at Glendora High School in California. Your ideas and reflections enriched this year’s competition and our team’s hours of evaluation.

Drumroll, please. It’s time to “crown” this year’s Grand Prize winner, a strong and persuasive voice in the Comment and Win contest since he first appeared in an article thread about the trade war at 9:06 p.m. ET on July 5, 2019. This year’s top honors go to Aaryan Sharma, a senior at C Leon King High School in Tampa, Florida, U.S. (and a classmate of Arpan Bagui). Aaryan’s comments in each round, starting with his first-place reflections on How the Trade War with China Is Hurting U.S. Farmers, moving on to his response to the personal essay, A Teen from the United Arab Emirates Considers a New Era of Taxation, then his reactions to the personal essay Financial Literacy Champ, Sohil Varshney, and finally, his Round 4 insights on the personal essay, A Student Draws Inspiration from the Dabbawalas of Mumbai, were articulate, well-written, engaging and, at times, poignant. Well-done, Aaryan! You impressed us with your style, while also helping to deepen our knowledge on a variety of topics.

Thank you to all this year’s Comment and Win participants. In case you missed our previous reports, click here for Round 1, Round 2 and Round 3. Teachers, be sure to check out our new Comment & Win Classroom Guide for all the ways to engage your students in this great activity.  Our team will be responding to some of the student perspectives on articles in the days and weeks ahead, so be sure to check back regularly with the KWHS online business journal and follow the growing story threads. You are always welcome to leave fresh comments on stories that interest and inspire you. Let your voice be heard!

Grand Prize winner Aaryan Sharma of Tampa, Florida.