Student Wins $5,000 With “Evil Air Conditioner” Essay

Here is Hope Alternative Center student used wit to win NBC Miami's contest.

A Miami-Dade student helped his school cash in thanks to a witty essay.

"He is, in my opinion, one of the smartest students I have ever taught," raved Dr. Barrett Mincey about student Michael Orr.

Orr received a huge round of applause from members of the Miami-Dade School Board, school officials and a busload of his buddies Wednesday after he was named the winner of the NBCMiami Homeroom Reformers Challenge.

NBCUniversal, which owns NBCMiami, sponsored an essay contest that encouraged students to write an essay about how they would improve their school in 500 words or less.

This was no run-of-the-mill essay competition, though. The stakes were high, as the winner would rake in $5,000 for improving their school.

Contest officials said 256 Miami-Dade students took a shot at the big bucks that would go to the winner's school. 

What's unique about this story is that Orr attended the Here is Hope Alternative School, and he isn't shy about talking about a few bumps along the road of life. He's frank about saying he would have never been able to write the essay without the support of his teachers and the staff of the school.

"You took me in during a very hard time in my life," he told his school buddies, teachers and family members.

But Michael's essay wasn't all heartstring tugging -- he poked fun at the school for the lack of reliable air conditioning:

"Furthermore, our homeroom has been cursed with a more frivolous and volatile air conditioner than any that have ever been made. It may only be a perspective in our class, but we believe that the temperature should not range from polar extremes throughout each day. The constant shifting has caused more than one head cold. We arrive at school in the morning and are greeted with a blast of arctic chill only to come back from lunch to the Sahara Desert. The indecision alone is driving us crazy. Just having a stable learning environment could change our entire experience in the classroom; this may cut down on the amount of negativity brought on by an evil air conditioner."

Orr said he wrote with humor, tongue in cheek, and he won. He was also deadly serious proving a point saying, "The kind of kid that goes there (Here Is Hope Alternative School), we are not looked at as the best, so I gave them more than what they expected and I would show that we are still human."

"He has the skills, he had the drive, and he commented when he went there that 'I want to do extremely well," Mincey said.

The $5,000 bought a new air conditioner, some computers, a high speed DSL line and some desks, all welcomed at the school.

Orr is off to the New World School, where he will sing and study opera, and then plans to go to Japan to perfect his martial arts skills. 

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