SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – At a virtual council meeting July 13, the winners of an essay contest sponsored by the South Plainfield Borough Clerk's Office were announced. 

Earlier this spring, the clerk's office launched an essay contest for middle school and high school students to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which was signed in June 1919 and ratified in August 1920, and granted women in the United States the right to vote. 

Students in 7th and 8th grade as well as those in 9th through 12th grade were invited to submit an essay, between 400 and 600 words, highlighting an activist with a connection to New Jersey, and explaining the importance of his/her to the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Entries were due June 1 and judged based on historical accuracy, remaining on topic, originality, organization, spelling, grammar, punctuation and works cited with Borough Clerk Amy Antonides, Council President Christine Faustini, and Councilwoman Melanie Mott charged with selecting a first, second and third place winner for each grade group. 

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"It was a pleasure to work with Council President Faustini and Councilwoman Mott on this essay contest. The essays were so well written and very enjoyable to read which made our decision making process quite a challenge," said Antonides prior to announcing the winners.  

In the 7th and 8th grade group, representing South Plainfield Middle School, Neha Bommireddy took first place; Nina DeSimone took second place; and Aadi Shah took third place. In the 9th through 12th grade group, representing South Plainfield High School, the winners were Fiza Rizvi, first place; Purva Bommireddy, second place; and Kaitlin Baskiewicz, third place. 

“Congratulations to all the winners and to the students for all their efforts,” said Mayor Matt Anesh during the meeting. 

The winners will each receive a certificate and 19th Amendment pin as well as Visa gift cards courtesy of Darlene Cullen of TAPinto South Plainfield; $150 gift cards were awarded to the first place winners with the second and third place winners receiving $100 and $75 gift cards, respectively. Additionally, the winning essays will be showcased on the South Plainfield Borough’s website ( and displayed at borough hall in recognition of the students’ accomplishments and the100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. 

“I want to thank Amy Antonides along with Councilwoman Mott and Council President Faustini for all their work with the essay contest and for allowing TAPinto to be the sponsor,” said Cullen. “A lot of work and dedication was put into to. Thank you all." 

"A very special thank you goes out to Darlene Cullen of South Plainfield TAP for her very generous sponsoring of the prizes for the winners," said Antonides. 

“It was very impressive, both in content and writing ability,” said Council President Faustini. “I am very proud of everyone and want to thank everyone who participated and TAPinto for their generous contribution.” 

Councilwoman Mott added, “You can tell the students all put a lot of effort into this and everyone’s submissions were fantastic … I also want to thank Darlene Cullen with TAPinto for the generous donation. We greatly appreciate you and all the students who participated.”

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