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Bester Academy student among Maryland essay contest winners

April 26, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - If Michaela Boyle were mayor, trash- and leaf-removal services would be cut in half, and taxes would not be increased, she said.

Michaela, of Hagerstown, a fourth-grade student at Bester Academy, was one of 11 district winners in the Maryland Municipal League's "If I Were Mayor I Would ..." annual essay contest. The contest is limited to fourth-grade students.

Michaela, 9, the daughter of Jeffrey Boyle and April Frusher-Boyle, wrote a 275-word essay about what actions she would take if she were mayor of a fictitious city that has a three-person police force; twice-a-week trash collection; snow and leaf removal; and street, sidewalk and park maintenance. The fictitious town pays the cost of an annual Festival at the Park.

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"Next year, your city government will not be receiving as much money as it had in the past to help pay for citizens services," students were told for the essay contest. "You will have to reduce or get rid of some services or raise the city property tax ... to keep the same amount of services you have now."

The students were asked what changes they would make.

Michaela said everyone in her class was assigned to write the essay. She was nervous and was surprised when she learned she won.

She said she remembers when she heard the news.

"I was thinking, 'Oh, my God!'" she said.

Michaela's parents said they are very proud of her.

On Friday, Michaela's family attended a ceremony with Lt. Gov. Michael Steele in Annapolis, where she was given a plaque, a $250 savings bond, a framed copy of her essay and a citation from the governor. The family ate at the U.S. Naval Academy and went on a boat ride, she said.

Asked if she plans to seek political office, Michaela said, "maybe."

Among the suggestions in her essay:

  • Cut in half the amount of leaf removal. While it is important to keep leaves off the streets, she does not think it would be so bad if leaves accumulated on sidewalks, Michaela said.

  • Raise ticket prices for the festival and increase the cost for stands at the event. Some people might get mad at that, she said, but she needed to identify a way to increase revenue.

    "It's that or taxes, and I would go with the festival," she said.

  • Have a citywide yard sale.

    "The residents would gather up all the junk they don't want and there would basically be a yard sale. Everyone would have to do it," Michaela said.

    While residents could keep the revenues from the sales at their individual yards, they would have to pay the city a fee to be part of the mandatory program, she said.

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