Summit CDS freshman places third in national DNA essay contest

Summit Country Day Upper School biology teacher Karen Suder and freshman Irene Calderon

Summit Country Day Upper School biology teacher Karen Suder and freshman Irene Calderon are pictured on the American Society of Human Genetics website.

Summit Country Day School freshman Irene Calderon of Hyde Park placed third in the National DNA Day Essay Contest sponsored by the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG).  

ASHG received essays from 1,088 students from 45 U.S. states and 24 non-U.S. countries, who explored an ethical dilemma in human genetics. The essays were judged by more than 300 ASHG members who examined them for accuracy, creativity and writing. Winners were announced April 25, which was National DNA Day. 

A sample of Irene’s essay appears on the ASHG website. She will be awarded a $400 prize and the school will receive a $400 grant to be used to purchase genetics resources.  

First place went to a junior in Seattle and second place was awarded to a freshman in McLean, Va. Irene was one of five students from The Summit who voluntarily entered the contest in March.  

The essay prompt students were given asked them to use their knowledge of the scientific and medical aspects about Huntington’s Disease to debate whether a genetic counselor should go against a patient’s wishes by informing the patient’s sibling that the patient was diagnosed with the disease. Students had to offer pro and con arguments by discussing the relevant goals, rights and duties of each of the parties in the case – the genetic counselor, the patient and the patient’s daughter. Huntington’s Disease was used as the introductory activity to Honors Biology’s study of genetics this year. 

“Our school is committed to transforming children into leaders of character,” says head of School Rich Wilson. “As part of that, we put the ethical dilemmas in front of children and teach them how to think things through. This competition fits right in with that part of our curriculum.” 

Read Irene’s essay at this link.