University of Delaware
2011 Coast Day High School Video Contest winner Saleh Hamad (second from left) was recognized by (from left) UD President Patrick Harker, Senator Tom Carper, Lewes Mayor Jim Ford, and National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read.

Students cited

Coast Day essay and video contest winners recognized


11:32 a.m., Oct. 11, 2011--The winners of two Coast Day contests for Delaware school kids were honored during a ceremony at the University of Delaware event, held Sunday, Oct. 2, at UD’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes.

Coast Day, sponsored by UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE) and the Delaware Sea Grant College Program, highlights the role of coastal resources in benefiting public health, supporting the economy, and providing for everyday needs. With that in mind, both contests asked students to reflect on this year’s theme, “It’s About You,” and explore what they like most about Delaware’s coast and propose ideas for protecting it. 

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Shea Sweeney, a student in Marilyn Vallejo’s class at St. Ann School in Wilmington, took first prize in the Fifth-Grade Essay Contest. She wrote about the Brandywine River and ways to protect it.

“My goal for the Brandywine River is for people to be able to enjoy it for many generations,” she wrote.

Taking second place was Ethan Ward, a student in Tanya Mock’s class at East Millsboro Elementary School. Third place went to Meredith Carey, of Heather Kerrick’s class at Phillis Wheatley Middle School in Bridgeville.

Three honorable mention essayists also were recognized: Anika Devotta of Odyssey Charter School in Wilmington; Lucy Sheetz of St. Ann School; and Cole Statler of East Millsboro Elementary. Their teachers are Charlotte Horgan, Marilyn Vallejo and Tonya Mock

In Coast Day’s High School Video Contest, students were asked to produce videos lasting less than two minutes. Saleh Hamad of Caesar Rodney High School in Camden, Del., earned top prize for his entry, “How I Help My Environment.” His teacher is Mary Stokes.

Hamad’s winning video can be viewed at Delaware Sea Grant’s YouTube channel:

Second place in that competition went to Jennie Elliott and Edward Yienger, under the direction of Paris Crockett at Caesar Rodney High School. Third place was awarded to fellow Caesar Rodney students Zach Shaffer and David Macedo, who are also students of Mary Stokes.

For more information about Coast Day, which will take place next year on Sunday, Oct. 7, visit or call 302-831-8083. 

To learn more about the Delaware Sea Grant College Program, visit For more about CEOE, visit

Fifth-grade essay contest winner

Shea Sweeney

St. Ann School

Teacher: Marilyn Vallejo

The Brandywine River

I love all of Delaware’s coastlines, but the Brandywine River is my favorite. My family and I enjoy going to the Delaware beaches in the summer, but the Brandywine River is a place that we visit all year long. We live very close to the Brandywine River so it is easy for me to walk, ride my bike, or take my dogs there. It is fun to see how the river changes with each season.

I have been going to the Brandywine River ever since I was born. I remember playing a game with my brothers where you throw a stick on one side of the bridge and see which stick comes out first on the other side. I also remember collecting walnuts and throwing them into the river. One day I even saw baby geese learning to fly by jumping over the waterfall.

The Brandywine River is an important part of Delaware’s history. The DuPont Company used the river to power their mills and make gunpowder. Unfortunately the use of the river for manufacturing caused a lot of damage and pollution. Today, because of government regulations, it is not the industrial polluters that are affecting the quality of the water. It is the changes that we are making to our landscape. The landscape surrounding the river is its watershed. All water that reaches the river flows downhill through the surrounding land. The Brandywine River watershed used to be covered with forests. Many of those forests have been cut down to make room for building, streets and agriculture. The forest floor used to allow water from a rain to slowly seep into the ground, but now water from a rainfall runs rapidly into the Brandywine. The rapid water runoff carries soil and pollutants with it. I saw this when my family and I went down to the Brandywine River after Hurricane Irene. The river was overflowing its banks and flooding the parking lots. The habitats of many animals, fish, birds and insects are also damaged by the changes that are made to the landscape.

Everyone who lives in Brandywine River watershed can help keep the river clean and healthy. In our daily lives we can reduce trash and recycle. We can also buy green products and never use pesticides and chemicals on our lawns and gardens. Most importantly, we can plant trees. 

I personally would like to do even more to help preserve the Brandywine River for future generations. There is a group called Friends of Brandywine Park that cleans up around the river and takes care of the plants along its banks. I would like to join this organization when I am old enough and someday be president of it. I have some good ideas for future projects. I would like to remove the parking lots along the river and plant trees along its banks instead. Even though it is convenient to park next to the river to enjoy it, it is more important to protect the river so it can be enjoyed for years to come. I would like to have the parking moved further away to higher ground. 

My goal for the Brandywine River is for people to be able to enjoy it for many generations. I want to make sure the ecosystem is stable so that many different plants and animals are able to live there. I would also like to improve the water quality and someday be able to take down the signs that say no eating the fish or swimming in the river due to pollutants.

Photos by Lisa Tossey

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