The Firefighter Christopher Santora Educational Scholarship Fund Website

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Allison DeCrescenzo:
2012 Winner
CCC Queensview North

Allison DeCrescenzo

Winning Essay

Maybe I’m of an unpopular opinion, but I’m tired of the occupying. The Occupy Wall Street movement and its national offshoots have good intentions at their core. They sought to bring to light the extent of corporate greed and corruption, to highlight the plight of the average worker (or non-worker, as one of their complaints is that our unemployment rate is up to 8.5%)—the 99%—as they called themselves. They intended to extend the right of education and financial stability to everyone who lacked. The protesters were outraged at the unequal distribution of wealth, and so took to the streets in September 2011 to exercise their right to assemble peacefully. But as time went on, aims became blurred, crowds became vulgar, and the movement began to lose my respect.

I saw people begin to head to Zuccotti Park—the home of the movement and a sort of Hooverville at the time—for the simple fun of it. I began to notice that most of the people headed down there were “protesting” for no reason at all… for drum circles and open drug use, for topless feminists, and to carelessly make a mockery of the respectable core values of the movement. So many people headed downtown to yell, to camp out, and to enjoy the chance to pretend they were hippies. It was eventually reduced to protesting for the sake of it, and protesting what became unclear. And then they were outraged when the police later responded with (honestly, unnecessarily extreme) force. The demonstrations meant to condemn the selfish actions of the bank systems faded to the background, and were replaced by the call for anarchy! and to overthrow the failed government! They hated Bush. They hated Obama. They hated the police, they hated religion, they hated the school systems, they hated the unemployment rates, and they hated anyone who noticed that they had a lot to say, but not many solutions to offer. It was the government’s fault, and it was the fault of the wealthy. I saw blame thrown from every side. I saw disgusting behavior from the occupiers—several of whom were charged with sexual assault in the camps—and from law enforcement sent to the camps to “keep the peace” by pepper-spraying protesters, including netted groups of women who, while insubordinate, were of no physical threat to the officers or demonstrators present. The sign-holders claiming that they were the 99% seemed to become less and less informed about what that percentage was really supposed to mean. And as their goals and reasons for assembling became less important to them, it became of no importance to me.

I am headed to college next year, and of course I hope to someday be of some importance to the world. I want to make some kind of a difference, and naturally, I hope to be financially successful in my life. Despite my future well–being supposedly being at the core of the movement, I don’t feel like the Occupy Wall St. movement could have helped me with any of these goals. It was all so very self–indulgent. I am young, like the majority of the protesters (only 30% of the occupiers were over 35 years old,) and of course I’m worried about the future of my country both fiscally and morally. I’d like to believe that I live in a country that looks out for its future generations, but with the heavy hand of corporations influencing the decisions of our government, it’s easy to feel betrayed by the manipulations of capital, which financially benefit only a small population who are already fabulously rich.

Maybe I’m simply young and naïve, but I wish that those in charge came to decisions for the benefit of the country and its people. Financial gain has its place, but I wish that the profit and safety of the average American citizen was what came first, at all times. Too much hardship is taken advantage of by those business owners who only seek to make more money, and in today’s economy, there’s abundant hardship. While the demonstrators shouted a lot about the unacceptable corruption of Washington, and that power and wealth should be more evenly distributed amongst “us”—the young and middle class—it was aimless anger. They blamed everyone for the problems, and offered no educated resolution.

The visions of what would arise from their initially valiant actions flickered out with their physical protests. Naturally the spirit of the Occupy movement still lives, but after its harborers were evicted from the park, a riot or two occurred—a last gasp—and now they lie quiet. All the trouble, and all the anger was for nothing, as nothing has come of it. Nothing has changed, and nothing will until people gather together, not just physically in a public park, but as an entity that knows its rights, and not only intends to exercise them, but extend them. True goals need to be organized, and those who would work towards those goals selected. Leaders need to come forward, and need to have the goals of the movement be their truest desires, not just excuses to have a camp–out in New York City.

I want to admire the work of the people who actually believed that they could make a difference for themselves, and for me as a part of the future American generation. But when their motives are distorted by disorganization and the discourtesy of fellow protesters, I can’t find support for them in myself. When the Occupy movement rises up again in New York City, as it likely will, I hope that it will be with more integrity and coordinated ambition, rather than just the earnest belief that the world would be better if the rich were poor too, an anger that benefits no one.

Biography

We would like to wish Allison DeCrescenzo the best of luck moving on to SUNY Fredonia. Congratulations!

My name is Allison DeCrescenzo, and I am so thrilled to have been chosen as a winner of the Christopher Santora Scholarship. I won the contest in the eighth grade, so it’s very exciting to have been chosen again. I go to Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Long Island City, a public high school dedicated to helping young artists become better at what they love. I’m a vocalist there, and will be pursuing again music in the Fall, when I begin as a freshman at SUNY Fredonia’s School of Music. I am so thrilled to have been accepted there. Since I was young I knew there was nothing I wanted to do but perform. I can remember being in the first grade, and singing in my elementary school’s talent show, knowing even then that singing for people made me happier than anything. It’s a ridiculous dream, really, to hope to be successful as a musician, but I couldn’t live a life without having tried. I love music more than anything in this world, save for my family.

My family supports me with everything I do. They’re at every show, any event, and behind me every step of the way. My younger brother Steven and sister Katherine never cease to make me laugh, and my older brother Zach teaches me so much about growing up. My parents are always there for me, no matter what happens. I’m so grateful that I have such a loving family, because I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them.

I want to thank the Santoras again, winning this is such an honor. The Christopher Santora Scholarship fund is such a wonderful tribute to a wonderful person. The help you give to so many kids each year is inspiring, and I know that, personally, it makes all the difference.

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