Let's keep making history!

For the 3rd year in a row,
The Gertsburg Law Firm and The
Chagrin Valley Chamber of Commerce
are teaming up for a one-of-a-kind
essay contest. This year, 6000 students from 7 high schools will try to solve a
real-world problem in a well-written essay.

Scroll down to see the
results of last year’s contest.


  • 6000 eligible students from Chagrin Falls, Kenston, Orange, Newbury, Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Aurora, and Beachwood High Schools
  • Hundreds of business owners, professionals, and community leaders as essay judges
  • Local businesses and community members as contributors and donors


  •  Students select a real-world problem to solve in 600 words or less (one single-spaced page).


  • Essays will be submitted between February 7th and February 21st, 2018
  • Three rounds of judging between February 21st and May 3rd, when final winners in each grade and overall will be announced at an awards banquet


  • Encourage students to solve a problem they are experiencing
  • Train students and incentivize them to optimize two sets of skills, problem-solving and persuasive communication, which rely on different cognitive abilities
  • Facilitate productive, friendly competition to teach students goal-setting and achievement
  • Reward students’ efforts by providing them with school recognition, community recognition, resume-building opportunities and a cash award
  • Raise funds for the school by matching the student award with an award to each school
  • Bring community leaders in contact with schools, their students and future leaders
  • Have the very business leaders who will be their future employers train students now on essential problem solving and communication skills
  • Showcase the talents of students in our community
  • Keep making history

2017 Contest Winner

Benjamin Karyo, Chagrin Falls High School



From left to right: Trevor Gile (Motorcars), Benjamin Karyo, Jeff Hoffman, Alex Gertsburg

12th Grade

12th Grade Runner Up

Christina Weber, Newbury High School

Elizabeth Burr, Kenston High School

Benjamin Karyo, Chagrin Falls High School

Allyson Kekedy, Newbury High School

Andrea Rengers, Kenston High School

John Van de Walle, Orange High School

Michael Weimann, Chagrin Falls High School


11th Grade

11th Grade Winner

Riley Kirkpatrick, Chagrin Falls High School

10th Grade Runner-up

Abbey Cloonan, Chagrin Falls High School

Brendan Byrnes, Kenston High School

Michayla Connor, Orange High School

Erin Mast, Kenston High School

Eesha Patel, Orange High School


10th Grade

10th Grade Winner

James Sadowski, Chagrin Falls High School

10th Grade Runner-up

Alexa Paull, Orange High School

Sarah Dangler, Kenston High School

Jack Haynes, Kenston High School

Maxwell Plesmid, Newbury High School

Ian Resnick, Orange High School

Mikayla Salvati, Chagrin Falls High School


9th Grade

9th Grade Winner

Molly Sobota, Chagrin Falls High School

9th Grade Runner-up

Chloe Barnes, Kenston High School

William Bazzone, Chagrin Falls High School

Gianna LaSalvia, Kenston High School

Annika Markoff, Kenston High School

Sophie Suh, Orange High School 

Kate Tzefronis, Orange High School


2017 Contest Winners

Inaugural “We Solve Problems: Essay Contest finalists, March 30, 2016

Alex Gertsburg addresses finalists March 30, 2016

Jeff Hoffman talking with Morgan Walker
winner of the inaugural “We Solve Problems”
Essay Contest, March 30, 2016

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