Staples High School junior Shelby Cataldo is the first-place winner of Gault Energy's teen essay competition.
Cataldo's winning essay, which focused on the possibility of mimicking photosynthesis to produce clean, renewable energy, was selected from more than 50 essays submitted by Fairfield County teens to the contest, called, "What's Next? Energizing the Next 150 Years."
In addition to Cataldo, finalists included runner-up Jordyn Patterson, a senior at Staples High School; Graham Bonnell and Nathalie Pacheco, both sophomores at Fairchild Wheeler Multi-magnet High School in Bridgeport; and Stephen Gaylas, a senior at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk. Their energy solutions included using carbon nanotubes, human and animal waste, hydrogen, and kinetic energy found in ocean waves, to create renewable energy.
Cataldo received a $1,500 scholarship from Gault for her winning essay. She and fellow finalists are scheduled to join Sam Gault on a personal tour of the Bank of America Tower in New York City, one of the world's most environmentally responsible high-rise office buildings, according to information from Gault Energy.
"I'm thrilled to be a part of the search for the energy solutions of tomorrow," said Cataldo, a self-described English and social studies enthusiast, who said she has become more aware of renewable energy through her AP Environmental Studies class. "Moving forward, it's vitally important that we have an energy base that is renewable and will last for many years to come," she said.
The essay competition was part of Westport-based Gault's 150th anniversary celebration.