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Constantine G. Pougiouklidis:
2012 Winner
Bayside High School

Constantine G. Pougiouklidis

Winning Essay

“Water, water; we die of thirst….Cast down your bucket where you are!” —Booker T. Washington

Occupy Wall Street is a cry for help. Protesters, working class people standing up against corporations, politicians, and the government are demonstrating the need for equality. The purpose of Occupy Wall Street promotes truth of economic inequality and corporate greed. The gap created between white collar and blue collar during the past decade displays injustice. Occupy Wall Street calls this gap the 99%-1%; the 99%, comprised of the lower and middle classes, and the 1%, made up of the upper class earning over $200,000 annually. America’s 1% controls roughly 42% of the nation’s financial wealth. The result of greedy actions on Wall Street caused social, political, and economic decadence, leading to increased unemployment and home foreclosures. Families’ financial predicaments foreshadow an ominous future, since they face obstacles such as struggling to pay for their children’s college tuition. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s profound words, “I have a dream” portray the driving force behind America, where “the home of the free” provides equal opportunities for all. Therefore, the need for social and political reform is dire to the survival of America’s economy and future!

Occupy Wall Street illuminates the injustice within our society. Through my eyes, economic reform will reinstate our Civil Rights. People deserve the equal rights of health care, education, and job opportunities, which will also improve our living standards. Everyone in this country needs a deserving chance for their aspiring dreams and equality; worried families, concerned individuals, and students would deal with less economic stress and debt, enabling them to pursue education, business, and financial spending. The social gap between Americans must diminish in order to sustain peace, harmony, and success nationwide; thus, assisting and improve our global economy. Corporations and our government should, “Cast down their buckets,” in order for participating citizens to fill them with fresh water. The nation must “cement” relations between the upper class and working class of America. This would enable everyone to strive for their dreams and accomplish them. Dr. King’s echoing words, “I have a dream” will once again revive America’s sense of identity.

Regulation on Wall Street is one of the main purposes of Occupy Wall Street which is necessary for law abiding citizens under the Bill of Rights to voice their opinions through freedom of expression. “We, the people”, need change. As a representative of tomorrow’s future, I want to achieve my dream through a democracy built on equal opportunity for all. America represents “the homeland of the free” with various opportunities for students like me to accomplish goals and aspirations. “We, the people,” should not have to submit to underlying corruption and injustice that strips our civil rights to strive for success; we all deserve a chance for higher education and various opportunities for America’s benefit. Our society’s future depends on today’s actions. The government needs to intervene and pass laws that will assist the Occupy Wall Street movement. As a primary step, Congressman Barney Frank passed laws on financial regulation and accountability.

It is difficult to determine whether Occupy Wall Street has accomplished its goals, since it is “still casting a storm,” a continual process only about 4 months into effect. Thus far, I believe it has accomplished its goal to an extent because of the media’s exposure. Our surrounding world strives for equal opportunity, one of the movement’s main purposes. The news has spread nationally and globally. Responsibility and accountability must start at the federal level.

Rallying and marching has been Occupy Wall Street’s method in spreading their concerns. Although it may seem effective, I believe that the most crucial voices are our voices: the high school and college students; the voices of the future that will face injustice if social and political reform is ignored. Thus, we must stand strong and vote to express our opinions. Through each and every course, I have seen one connecting link remaining superior to all the others; within each corner of the world it is the students who rise up and demand action. We have the ultimate desire to create change. United we stand within a global arena; and on that note, each student must “cast down their buckets” and fill them with knowledge; for it is the knowledge which will inspire change for our future generations. Each and every individual needs to take responsibility to gain back America, and reclaim the solid foundation it was built on: freedom, democracy, liberty, and justice for all!

Biography

“The one thing that does not abide by majority rule is a man’s conscience.” —Atticus Finch, to Kill a Mockingbird

My name is Constantine Pougiouklidis and I am a high school senior, currently enrolled in The Humanities Program. I mentioned the above quotation as an example in which I live and cherish as my embodied philosophy as I take my next step in society. It is a person’s determination, motivation, and endurance that stand out among others in society. My values will stand out as I consciously make future moral decisions that would benefit other lives as well as a community as a whole. My experiences in the Humanities Program have shape me in many positive ways. First, as a responsible, caring, and compassionate individual who will strive to make positive differences in people’s lives, giving back to my community and eventually in my surrounding world. When I was young, I always began the sentence with “Imagine if.”

Academics and sports have taught me a great deal on how to adapt to changes, a variety of personalities, and team effort, and all positive attributes for my future. During my years at Bayside High School, I played for the Junior Varsity Basketball team, and played goalkeeper for the “Commodores” Varsity Soccer team. Sports has helped me gain stamina, discipline, responsibility, attain endurance, and taught me the importance of an involved team player. It has also inspired me to believe that you never give up! The 4 years of playing on these teams taught me patience, persistence, and to remain focused. I have received the PSAL Award for Leadership, was nominated and chosen to play for the Mayors Cup All Star Team, and was nominated All City goalkeeper for 2011.

As I enter a new chapter in my life, I feel confident that I possess the necessary tools for success. The positive experiences during my community services and high school years will help guide me in my future endeavors as a caring and participating citizen for the rest of my life. My current academics and activities have shaped and made a positive difference in my life. They have helped me expand and broaden my knowledge, since learning and experiencing never “ceases.” My embodied philosophy will further assist me in college, as an aspiring Civil Engineer and bring the “imagine if” to life. I am very grateful to my loving and supportive family and to my inspiring teachers, here today, who have assisted me in various ways, carefully paving my success in academics, sports, and community service.

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