Hildene Announces Essay Winners
Winners of the Hildene’s 2018 Lincoln Essay Competition were selected from 187 entries from eighth graders in 38 Vermont schools. In the words of Hildene president Seth Bongartz, “Using Abraham Lincoln’s legacy as touchstone, the goal of the competition is to promote awareness in the minds of a young generation of Americans of the responsibility each of us has to do our part to make our community, our state, our country and even our world a better place.” Before taking on the challenge, students were asked to grapple with what it means to be a patriotic American, a topic that can sometimes lead to heated debate. In his time, President Lincoln was viewed as both a traitor and a patriot. Many Americans believed his actions to abolish slavery threatened their livelihood and flew in the face of the Constitution and their idea of freedom; others came to view Lincoln as the epitome of patriotism because he knew the Union could not allow slavery and be a true democracy with justice for all. Today the nation is again deeply divided on many issues and among them is the concept of patriotism. Blind judging was done by a panel of judges based on the content, the student’s understanding of the subject and her or his ability to convey that understanding using good writing practices including style, composition, grammar and factual accuracy. Hildene applauds all who participated in the competition.It was interesting for the judges to read the different perspectives students held, especially when writing about the same events: the removal of Confederate statues; NFL players taking the knee in protest during the national anthem; the Women’s March on Washington; the President’s travel ban for eight predominately Muslim countries; efforts to ban transgender people from serving in the military; Edward Snowden’s actions; and granting citizenship to illegal aliens who are US veterans, to name a few.
This year’s winners are: First Place, $1,000, Rebecca Cunningham, Edmunds Middle School, Burlington; Second Place, $750, Dahlia Rubin, Edmunds Middle School, Burlington; Third Place, $500, Elise Pricer, Edmunds Middle School, Burlington; Honorable Mentions, $200 each: Anna Diebold, Edmunds Middle School, Burlington; Iren Santana Hangen Vazquez, Long Trail School; Julia Keeton, Edmunds Middle School, Burlington; Skylar Platt, Harwood Union Middle School, Moretown; Joshua Snide, Mount Anthony Union Middle School, Bennington.
Winners will be honored at a celebratory luncheon hosted by Hildene on Sunday, May 20. Their essays will be available for viewing online at hildene.org, beginning May 21, where Hildene will also list the topics addressed by the 187 participants. To learn more or attend the luncheon, you can contact Stephanie at 802-367-7960 or firstname.lastname@example.org.