Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Glades Lives Matter spokeswoman Janet B. Taylor proudly presented scholarships to essay contest winners Jordan Sweet, third place; Morgan Sherman, first place; and. Jonathan Fuentes, second place. GLM issues scholarships annually to students at Glades Central, Pahokee and Clewiston high schools. The contest theme was “I am the Glades, and what the Glades means to me.” GLM scholarship winners are pictured with Janet Taylor, Clewiston High School Principal Roberto Sanchez and sponsor Dr. Harriet Rice.
CLEWISTON — High school students in ‘the Glades were invited by Glades Lives Matter to compete for scholarships by writing essays with the theme: “I am the Glades, and what the Glades means to me.” The contest was open to students at Glades Central High School, Pahokee High School and Clewiston High School.
Fifty-five essays were submitted. The winning essay was written by Morgan Sherman. Second place went to Jonathan Fuentes, and third place to Jordan Sweet.
The Glades is the sweet southern farm land that I have called my home all my life. When I think of her — I see the beautiful sunsets painted across the afternoon sky... I smell my abuela’s homemade cooking...I hear the sound of the Friday night football games. When thinking of The Glades I often look back on all the memories I have made here and all the people that shaped me into the person I am today.
The Glades brings everyone together because every person is connected one way or another. Together, we share the bond of being from an area that is fairly unknown to everyone else. She raised us like her own, hard work matters, say your please and thank yous, strive to do well in school, embrace diversity, treat everyone with love and kindness. In The Glades we come together during times of need, and care for each other like family. When the storm passes and the rubble settles, the Glades might be in ruins, but the family is still there.. It is then our task to bring The Glades we all know and love back to her former beauty.
The Glades does not discriminate, she welcomes all with open arms, no matter the skin color or cultural background. Diverse cultures seep through her walls, saturating the environment. Diversity is expressed in the food, music, and traditions that can be found in The Glades.
She’s home to the finest sugar in all of Florida and some of the most famous fishers in the nation.
Tourist from all over visit The Glades to see what she is most famous for, Lake Okeechobee. Not only do we share her with other people, but also with the exotic creature that inhibit Lake O.
The Glades have an important place in each of our hearts, so that when we leave her warm embrace we will always remember her as home.
I Am The Glades
“I am the Glades,” a phrase so many individuals and families in the surrounding areas might say, but what does it actually mean? The translation may differ between people, counties, and towns but for me it’s a prideful feeling of where I come from. Although the Glades are made up of Lake ‘O’, alligators, fish, and other wildlife, the surrounding areas such as Belle Glade, South Bay, LaBelle, Okeechobee, Lake Port, and my home town of Clewiston also make up the Glades.
The Glades is home to thousands of acres of lettuce, radishes, corn, and most populous, sugarcane. Clewiston is home to U.S. Sugar, which is the largest sugarcane producer in the United States, producing over 700,000 tons per year. Not only does U.S. Sugar provide jobs to much of Clewiston’s population, it also provides a way of life for many families and individuals. If not for U.S. Sugar, my family would not be lucky enough to have all that we do. The Glades for me is a sense of home and belonging.
My favorite part about Clewiston is its small town atmosphere, where everybody knows everybody. Small town people are the kind of people that drop what they’re doing if someone else is in need. From catching five pound bass or seeing thirteen foot alligators, to seeing lily pads and flowers on Lake Okeechobee, the Glades is home to an abundant amount of wildlife and plantlife. Largemouth bass, sunfish, and Mayan cichlid are a few of the 60 species of fish that populate the waters of Lake ‘O’. One of my favorite ways to spend my weekends is going out on the boat with my family. We can spend all day fishing and get the worst sunburn and it wouldn’t matter, as long as we’re spending time together.
When I hear “The Glades,” the thought of family instantly comes to mind. I am extremely lucky to live in such a close knit community where I know if I am in need, there will be people to help. One example of that small town people generosity is our town coming together to collect needed supplies to send to Hurricane Michael victims in their time of need. Hundreds of houses were destroyed during the hurricane and many are still trying to recover and get their lives back on track. The people of Clewiston, and many other towns, are working as hard as they can to help them as much as possible. So, what does “I am the Glades” mean to me? The Glades is family. The Glades is home.
I am the Glades
I close my eyes and let mother nature guide me. My surroundings are truly peaceful. I can hear the wind whispering sweet nothings in my ear. I can also feel the leaves stroking my skin. And the cold water covering my feet like a blanket that covers my body in the winter. I feel the heat, a warm kiss from the sun. The grass dances to the rhythm of the air, swinging from left to right. The waves of Lake Okeechobee move forward. At this very moment I feel free. Opening my arms in such a tropical paradise makes any worry that I might have go away.
I envision myself as a Great Blue Heron who flies through the sky and slowly observes the liquid land of sawgrass. Spotting Lake “O,” I go down and rest by the serene shore. But instantly, I must arise, startled by a terrifying alligator. So, I must make my way to the city. From above, I scan for any type of sanctuary. I observe a variety of nationalities living closely in a single suburban area. It is fascinating to me how they coexist and help one another. I see how they work together at the sugar cane farms. I glance behind me and become aware of the pink and orangey tones of the sunset. So I decide to return to where I was originally standing by the lake. I return from my reverie.
I open my eyes as I gaze upon the horizon, and I come to realize what this place, the Everglades means to me. It is a state of ethnicity, full of harmonies. The Glades is a big family formed by different communities, both human and animals. That is the moment I truly know that I am part of the Glades. I am its wind, its earth, and its spirit. I am its flora and fauna. I am the Glades.