Classroom assignment turns into $2,000 scholarship for WHS senior!
Cheyenne Moore wins 2017 Gen. Paul W. Tibbets, Jr. Award for essay promoting positive uses of nuclear energy
Strike up a conversation about nuclear energy, and odds are you’ll generate an emotionally charged debate.
For many, the mention of the topic immediately conjures images of destruction, most notably the United States’ decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, bringing about the abrupt surrender of Japan and end to World War II. That decision by President Truman will likely be argued until the end of time.
Modern-day headlines also illustrate the world’s fears of nuclear technology falling into the hands of rogue leaders who seek to use it to achieve their hostile goals.
Many others, though, look beyond the destruction and passionately promote the benefits of nuclear energy in “good” hands, and make the argument that, among other benefits, it is our nation’s best choice as an alternative to fossil fuels. Promoters argue that nuclear energy is clean, safe, and reliable, and produces little waste (President Ronald Reagan once stated that a year’s worth of waste from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk).
During the spring 2017 semester, students in the Wahoo High School Academic Decathlon class were asked to research and take a position either for or against the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and then compose a persuasive essay to make their arguments.
“As expected, the assignment resulted in passionate views on both sides of the fence,” stated WHS Media Director David Privett, co-teacher of the AcaDeca class. “Our topic of study last year was World War II, and two years ago we studied alternative energy, so this was a very relevant debate for us, and this assignment resulted in a lot of very good classroom discussion.”
The assignment was given after the Kinman-Oldfield Family Foundation announced its 2017 Paul Tibbets Nuclear Energy Award, a competition which awards a $2,000 scholarship to a Nebraska student who writes a paper, produces a video project or develops a community awareness program on the "Positive Uses of Nuclear Energy."
The award is named after Brigadier General Paul W. Tibbets, Jr. (USAF), the pilot of the Enola Gay, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber (built in Omaha) used to drop the first atomic bomb, Little Boy, on Hiroshima.
When all was said and done, student essays written in support of nuclear energy were submitted to the Kinman-Oldfield Foundation for the 2017 Tibbets competition.
Last week, the winner was announced: WHS senior Cheyenne Moore!
Moore’s essay, which is posted below, was chosen from all entries statewide. Her $2,000 scholarship has been sent to the Wahoo Public Schools Foundation, and will be forwarded to her college or university of choice this fall.
The WPS Foundation has expressed its appreciation for our school guidance office and other staff that encourage students to apply for awards such as these.
“We are now in a unique position to accept and reward grants for deserving students such as Cheyenne," commented WPS Foundation Member Bill Reece. "We have a very good working relationship with the Kinman-OIdfield Family Foundation, having previously received generous matching funds over the recent years, which we are using to bolster many of our existing scholarships. Congratulations to Ms. Moore on this exciting adventure and opportuinty.”
The Kinman-Oldfield Family Foundation continues the mission of Colonel Barney Oldfield and his wife Vada Kinman-Oldfield. Col. Oldfield [USAF Ret.], a Tecumseh, NE native, was a former aide to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. He later became a Hollywood Publicist, representing stars like Errol Flynn, Ronald Reagan, and Elizabeth Taylor. Vada served in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. The couple leaves behind a legacy of philanthropy, and their Foundation continues to fund numerous scholarship programs, including the annual Tibbets Award. Col. Oldfield and Gen. Tibbets were lifelong friends.
Congratulations Cheyenne on another very impressive accomplishment!
Brigadier Paul W. Tibbets Scholarship Essay
May 10, 2017
Ronald Reagan once said, “All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored
under a desk.” The world is constantly evolving with new ideas, and nuclear energy is one of those
ideas. Innovations such as modern medical practices, food processing, and use as a low-waste fuel
alternative prove that Chernobyl was a fluke at best.
Every day, 42,400 people are admitted to a hospital. For some, it’s as simple as a case of
tonsillitis. Others, however, may have something as severe as cancer. Cancer patients are treated
with radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy particles or
waves such as gamma rays, photons, or electron beams to target cancer cells and destroy them. This
method of cancer treatment has saved thousands of lives. Without access to nuclear radiation,
patients would be forced to stick to expensive, toxic chemotherapy. The applications of radiation go
beyond cancer treatment in medicine. Most of the population can say they’ve had an x-ray taken,
and many can vouch for x-ray technology. Doctors use x-rays to diagnose tumors and broken
bones, as well as punctured internal organs. Nuclear energy quite literally saves lives.
There have been over 40 countries worldwide that have approved the use of nuclear energy
to preserve food. Food irradiation is used to kill bacteria, insects, and other contagions that pose a
risk. This prevents salmonella, trichinosis, and cholera, which combined kill over 5,000 Americans
per year. This number would be exponentially higher without the irradiation process. Despite
popular opinion, irradiation doesn’t actually make your food radioactive, nor does it alter the food
itself anymore than canning or freezing it would.
Greenhouse gases over the years have managed to create a massive hole in the ozone layer
over the South Pole, and they are the leading cause of global warming. While this can’t be stopped,
the best humans can do as a race is to mitigate the effect by significantly decreasing our greenhouse
gas emission. That's where nuclear energy comes in. Nuclear reactors, unlike coal producing
technologies, generate electric power. Electric power has no actual effect on the atmosphere, hence
the increasing interest in hybrid vehicles. Nuclear power plants don’t release carbon dioxide, sulfur
dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury, or any other toxic gases. Coal-production plants emit all of these.
The worst that a properly maintained nuclear plant emits is water vapor.
On April 26, 1986, a nuclear reactor plant near Pripyat experienced a steam explosion and a
subsequent open-graphite fire. In layman’s terms, the plant went “BANG” and nuclear waste
polluted the entire area. Originally, this was written off as operator error, and many became turned
off to the idea of nuclear energy usage for this very reason; however, evidence later showed there
was a massive flaw in the design of the reactor’s control rods, which regulate the reactions. This, as
well as several other deficiencies in the reactor, caused the explosion. Due to Chernobyl, many have
condemned the use of nuclear energy, and only look at the dangers of utilizing this alternative
energy source; however, any adequately monitored nuclear facility proves that the events of
Chernobyl weren’t due to nuclear energy itself, but rather a design error.
Nuclear energy will become an imperative energy source in society. With medicine, food
production, and environmental conservation, it’s outrageous that it’s not already the primary
source. The Chernobyl accident was just that: an accident. If anything, it serves as a reminder to
properly maintain nuclear reactors today to avoid such an event from happening again. The
utilization of nuclear energy could be the best thing to happen to modern society, if only humans
would quit being stubborn and open themselves up to the opportunities it presents.
|Anne Bowmanteachersrule50@yahoo.comWahoo, NERetired teacher|
Oct 11, 2017
|Congratulation, Cheyenne. Excellent well thought-out essay and very well written. This is coming from a retired English teacher. I am very proud of you!|