By Maria Wyllie
Big Sky Weekly Editorial Assistant

BIG SKY – Lone Peak High School junior Anna Middleton is the state winner of the 2012-2013 national peace essay contest, in which students analyzed what a gendered approach to peace building means. Middleton will travel to Washington, D.C., in June to participate in peace building and negotiation seminars with diplomats and leaders at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

“I know that gender and peace building is really interesting, and I could definitely see myself working abroad in gender issues and the relations to peace building,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a really good learning experience, and I’ll meet a lot of really interesting, intelligent people,” she said.

As the state winter, Middleton was awarded a $1,000 college scholarship and will have the chance to compete for college scholarships of up to $10,000 at the conference in June.

Middleton’s essay, titled “Liberia v. DRC: Inclusion of Women in Multi-pronged Post Conflict Peacebuilding,” argued that the greater participation of women in the three pillars of peace – economic recovery, social cohesion and political legitimacy – creates a lasting positive impact in the post conflict period, because women bring specific qualities that men do not.

Middleton is already working toward helping girls in an international setting. As a member of the National Honor Society, she is required to do one community service project a year. For this year’s project, she is bringing the film Girl Rising to Big Sky’s Lone Peak Cinema on May 9 at 7 p.m.

The film, which focuses on girls’ education, is somewhat connected to the essay topic in that they both encourage the greater involvement of women in education and politics, specifically in developing countries. Directed by Academy Award nominee Richard Robbins, Girl Rising tells the stories of nine girls, all from different countries, who are determined to gain empowerment through education.

Although the film is free, donations are suggested, and all of the proceeds will go toward purchasing bikes for girls in Cambodia so they can safely travel to school, as they often get attacked along the way. Trevor House, who is a sophomore at LPHS and youth ambassador for the State Department, will be presenting the money to the girls on a Department-sponsored, three-week trip to Cambodia this summer.

An assembly on May 8 at Lone Peak Cinema will feature a screening of the trailer and will teach people more about the film’s purpose. Due to legal rights, anyone interested in attending the film must be invited. Everyone who goes to the assembly and all Ophir/LPHS faculty, staff, students and their parents are invited.

Others interested in seeing Girl Rising can contact Middleton at annamiddletonphotography@gmail.com.