About Sydney Gondringer:  I am a rising sophomore at Mercyhurst University, majoring in Dance (BFA) with a current 4.0 GPA. Upon graduation, I hope to continue my dance performing with a company. A native Pennsylvanian, my family resides in Cranberry Township, a northern suburb of Pittsburgh.  Prior to Mercyhurst, I attended Seneca Valley High School for two years, and graduated from Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School, where I was a member of the National Honor Society and the National Honor Society for Dance Arts.  During my senior year, I also apprenticed at Ballet Eddy Toussaint, a dance company in Montreal, Canada.

Judges' statement

Sydney achieved the highest score for competitive districts that we saw in this division and developed a well-articulated personal statement that outlined her process and challenges. Her entry really shows that even someone who hasn't followed redistricting as an issue before can do good work, if the willingness to work at it with a sense of fairness is there.

Endorsements: 1

Personal statement

For my American Government class at Mercyhurst University, I got assigned to make my own districts for the state of Pennsylvania. Doing this assignment was a very difficult thing because, as someone who didn't know much about district lines in Pennsylvania. I didn't know where to start.

I knew each district had to be within .5 percent percent of 747,199 in population and it had to be contiguous, so this is what I started with. I made 17 district outlines that were all over the place with the population within them and then I went in closer and carefully moved people over into other districts to make it even.

Once I started doing this, I got the hang of getting the population close to the perfect population and then I tried to add another element that would help my districts from becoming gerrymandered.

I started to look at competitiveness to give the districts set-ups that didn't favor one party more than the other. I got a total of 13 out of my 17 districts to be competitive, which I believe is a good number. One thing that I wish I could have gotten more of was a higher percent on compactness of my districts. My districts had an average of 27 percent which I think may be pretty low but still not terrible.

I also wish I had more districts that are majority-minority.

I am happy with my map because I think it has good numbers on average of everything that districts are supposed to have. I think the districts do not favor a party one way or another.

I enjoyed learning about my districts and what they do for everyone. I never knew this information before, and I feel like my knowledge on them now is greater and I can apply the information I have learned and take it into my life later on.