Sunday, September 20, 2020

Hill Senior Wins $30K Scholarship in Essay Contest

Hill School Senior Alexandra Lombardi, second from left, and her parents Thomas and Therea, as well as her grandfather, Thomas C. Lombardi.

Blogger's Note:
The following was submitted by the Greater Pottstown Foundation.

Each year the Greater Pottstown Foundation sponsors the Shandy Hill Essay Contest for senior students from The Hill School, Owen J. Roberts, Pottsgrove and Pottstown High Schools. 

The essay contest and award honor Shandy Hill, the Foundation’s founder and the original editor of the Pottstown Mercury from 1931 until he retired in 1967. Mr. Hill was an ardent believer in supporting education opportunities for students within the Pottstown Community. 

The Greater Pottstown Foundation strives to continue that worthy objective through various education related grants and student scholarship awards. 

Each year senior students from the four area schools, compete in the writing of an original essay which is to focus on some aspect of life in the Greater Pottstown Area. The Foundation seeks the writer’s original and personal interpretation of how any aspect of life is effected by living in this area as opposed to somewhere else. In any year that a winning essay is chosen, the writer is granted a $30,000 college scholarship to be used over four years. 

Since the schools were closed during the contest period this year the Foundation Board didn't really expect many essays, if any. We were pleasantly surprised when instead, it turned out to be a record year for participation. We received a total of 46 essays from the four schools. 

While The Hill School and Owen J Roberts submitted their usual high volume, we were especially pleased to see a record number of participants from Pottstown High School. 

The judging was difficult due to the large number of well written essays we received this year. 

The Board of Directors of the Greater Pottstown Foundation is proud to announce that the 2020 winner of the Shandy Hill Essay Contest is Alexandra Lombardi, a graduating senior from The Hill School. 

However, her home is not far away. Lexi resides in Willow Grove with her parents Thomas and Teresa Lombardi. Living so close to Pottstown, Lexi was aware of The Hill School, but not so much with the town itself. 

Always having been active in sports, especially hockey and ice hockey, her home team had competed at The Hill’s, ice hockey rink. After her freshman year of high school, Lexi transferred from her home district to The Hill School, with a little encouragement from The Hill ice hockey coach who had seen her play in competition. 

She, of course joined the ice hockey team at The Hill School, and also played on the soft ball team, where she became team captain in her senior year. 

Lexi’s essay, entitled “Dear Pottstown” was written in the form of a “goodbye letter” to the Town of Pottstown and the people that live and work here. She expressed sorrow that she had to leave so quickly and unexpectedly as The Hill School was closing early this past spring due to the COVID pandemic. 

In her essay, Lexi said that, three years ago as a high-school freshman, she hadn’t yet formed any goals or real direction for her life. But what helped her was that after she took up residence at The Hill, she fell in love with the town of Pottstown and the people here. 

She volunteered her time for the Pottstown Cares Program, and also the Salvation Army in town, helping with such things as sorting donations and serving meals. She enjoyed getting off campus whenever she could to explore different parts of the surrounding area and enjoyed interacting with the people she met. 

Unlike what she was used to, the people in Pottstown seemed always ready with a friendly greeting or conversation, or even just a reassuring smile. She described the Pottstown local residents and business owners as “welcoming, understanding, and just generally amazing people” who have “molded me as a person”, and in a greater sense, “brought meaning to my life.” 

As a result, Lexi started doing the same, and strived to treat others in the same fashion. She became driven to try to always interact with others in a way that would “bring even the smallest ray of sunshine to an otherwise gloomy day.” 

Ironically however, what impressed Lexi most about Pottstown was the local trash company, J.P. Mascaro & Sons. She had taken an environmental science course in school which left an immediate positive impression about what industry could do in a pro-active way for our environment. 

For example, she discovered that here in the Pottstown area, J.P. Mascaro was among the very first collection and recycling companies in the world to develop a procedure for sorting flexible plastic packaging (like Amazon plastic shipping bags and similar materials) from bulk recyclable collection, and turning it into a bailed material called rFlex.* 

Other companies could then use rFlex to produce a vast number of end-user substitute paper products, thereby saving millions of trees from destruction. S

he was excited that one of the very first experimental rFlex programs was right now being started with bulk recyclable collections right here in Pottstown – the very town Lexi has gained such respect for. 

Lexi Lombardi has been accepted to attend the College of Charleston in South Carolina this fall. She told us that she chose the College of Charleston, partly to experience a taste of our county’s southern culture, but mainly because of their Pre-law Advising program, along with their “Environmental and Sustainability Studies” interdisciplinary minor program. 

Lombardi currently hopes to pursue a career in environmental law. 

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