Current IssueAdvertiseAboutNewsCalendarContactHome
Social Networks
Twitter Facebook


Chapel Hill student named winner of Olive Garden essay contest
8/30/2012: .

If Jesus Sabiel Garcia were given $5,000 to support education in his community, he would use it to create a robotics program. The essay he wrote about instituting this program for his school was chosen as the best-written entry by a ninth-grader in Olive Garden's 16th annual Pasta Tales essay-writing contest.


Olive Garden asked students in first through 12th grade in the U.S. and Canada to submit an essay answering the question, "If you were given $5,000 to support education in your local community, how would you use it and why?" More than 29,000 entries were submitted this year, and one winner from each grade was selected. As a grade-level winner, Garcia, along with the other grade winners, will receive a $500 savings bond and a dinner with his family at his local Olive Garden.


In his essay, Garcia, who attends East Chapel Hill High School, explains why he believes a robotics program would be beneficial for his community. He wrote: "There are three reasons that a robotics program would be beneficial to my community. First, robotics teaches many skills, including engineering, programming and creative problem-solving. Second, robotics enables students to apply the principles that they learn, rather than just studying them in theory. Third, robotics is ideal for all students in the 1st through 12th grades. There are simpler projects appropriate for younger students and more challenging projects for older students. I would use (some) of the money for programming textbooks, community outreach, and entry fees for local and state robotics competitions."


With its focus on education, this year's essay question aligned with Darden Restaurants' Recipe for Success initiative. Darden is the parent company of Olive Garden, and Recipe for Success is designed to enable and empower youth to pave their own path to success by providing them access to the tools and information necessary to prepare for and navigate postsecondary education. The initiative also helps break down financial barriers by providing students with scholarships.


Garcia's essay "is well organized and demonstrates good support and examples," noted one of the judges from the Quill and Scroll Society of the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Iowa, which reviews the essays. All entries were judged based on creativity, adherence to theme, organization, grammar, punctuation and spelling.


"This year's Pasta Tales contest challenged students not only to think about how they can affect the future of education in their community, but also to articulate how they can turn their idea into reality," says John Caron, Olive Garden's president. "Every year we are impressed by how creative, passionate and ambitious students are. We congratulate everyone who participated in this year's Pasta Tales."


For more information on Recipe for Success, visit