Posted Online: March 07, 2014, 5:50 am

Faithful essay writer nets Pius premiere contest

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By Leon Lagerstam,

Lauren VanSpeybroeck
ROCK ISLAND -- Acting and writing in faith netted an Alleman High School senior a St. Pius essay-contest win.

Lauren VanSpeybroeck, 18, daughter of John and Nora VanSpeybroeck, Rock Island, claimed top honors in the Catholic Social Teaching Essay Contest, sponsored by the Faith in Action Committee at St. Pius X Catholic Church.

It was the first year of the contest, which organizers hope to make an annual competition.

Miss VanSpeybroeck will be honored during an 11 a.m. Mass on Sunday. St. Pius priest the Rev. Mike Schaab will present her with a $200 check she plans to use for college.

After graduating from high school, she plans to attend the University of Northern Iowa and major in teaching English to speakers of other languages, teaching Spanish and minoring in theater.

Miss VanSpeybroeck has won several other awards and prizes during her Alleman career, but this will be the first time she's been presented one during Mass.

"It makes me even more grateful for what I've achieved and all the blessings I've had," she said.

Other recent awards include a grand prize for music in the "Create Real Impact" campaign against distracted driving, and being named one of 12 senior Illinois High School Theater Award finalists.

Her "Create Real Impact" winning song was titled "The Don't Drive Dumb Ditty." Her winning St. Pius essay was titled "Catholic Social Teaching and Immigration."

"Since I volunteer at Casa Guanajuato Quad-Cities, I've gotten the experience of working a lot with the immigration population and know there's a need for places that welcome new people to the area," Miss VanSpeybroeck said. "As the United States of America, we need to live in this land of the free and work with those who need us."

Casa Guanajuato is a nonprofit organization, whose mission is "to contribute to the fullest development of Latino and other immigrant communities across the Quad-Cities region." It offers adult-education classes, counseling, citizenship classes and application assistance, as well as day care and childhood-education programs in Moline and Davenport.

Miss VanSpeybroeck said winning the essay contest was exciting for her and her parents.

"I was overjoyed and grateful, and my parents were quite proud," she said, adding that the cash prize is nice, too, because "every bit counts" when trying to pay for college.

Lauren VanSpeybroeck bio box
Address: Rock Island.
Birth date: Oct. 30, 1995.
Hometown: Rock Island.
Favorite Scripture: John 12:24.
Favorite Biblical character I'd like to meet: Mary, the mother of God.
Hobbies: Acting, singing and dancing.
One thing I feel strongly about: Always looking for God's plan, and what you can to do to help his plan lay out.
I wish I knew how to: Whistle.