Student Takes Home News-Decoder Essay Prize

Rico López ’18 wrote about the decline of democracy around the globe.
In December, News-Decoder, a nonprofit news service for millennials, announced the winners of its Arch J. Roberts essay/reporting contest for high school and college students. Among the four winners was Thacher’s own Rico López ’18, recognized for his piece The Global Slide From Democracy: Time to Wake Up. Rico is the editor in chief of The Thacher Notes and one of the student heads of the peer-to-peer Writing Center.

“This year, I wanted to challenge myself to write more,” says Rico. “I thought the contest would be a fun chance to do so.”

His piece examines an alarming trend: the recent decline of democratic governments, democratic institutions, and civil liberties around the world, from the Middle East to Europe to the Americas.  

“I had no idea what to write at first,” he admits. “The essay contest was focused on international issues, so I wanted to find a topic that really mattered to most countries. Fortunately, my ethics class with Mr. Carney had been discussing President Trumps effect on democratic norms and that inspired me to apply the same ideas to the world stage. For my research, I tried to find as much as I could on democracys recession to get a better idea on the topic and began writing after taking notes on a range of different sources.”

Thacher has an official partnership with News-Decoder through the Marvin Shagam Program for Ethics and Global Citizenship. Through this relationship, every student and educator in the School have access to a dependable, internationally-focused, advertising-free news source. Students also enjoy opportunities to contribute reporting to the site and receive one-on-one mentoring from journalism professionals.

Jake Jacobsen, the coordinator for the Marvin Shagam Program and an English teacher, mentions the fact that Rico’s essay topic was inspired by a classroom conversation. “This is exactly what we’re trying to do with the Marvin Shagam Program, to find ways to integrate curriculum, clubs, and other activities under the umbrella of global studies, to create a loose affiliation that allows us to support each other.”

Reflecting on the people who have encouraged and supported his writing, Rico concluded: “Dr. DelVecchio, Mr. Carney, Mr. Hooper, Mr. Spaulding, and Dr. Boyd have been tremendous influences at my time at Thacher. They have not only been incredibly encouraging, but they have also pushed me to better my writing in any way I could. (No joke, they’re amazing.)”

You can read Rico’s piece here.

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