MANCHESTER - Eighth grade students participating in the 2013 Lincoln Essay Competition are reminded that essays and application forms must arrive by mail or be delivered by hand at Hildene on or before President Lincoln's Birthday, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013 by 4:30 p.m. (Hildene is open 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily). Emailed submissions and late entries cannot be accepted.

In the fall of 2012 competition packets were distributed to teachers of 8th grade English, history, social studies, librarians and homeschool networks. With all materials available on line, interested students are able to enter the competition independently as well. The competition is open to all eighth grade students who live in Vermont and attend public, private or home schools in the state.

The program's goal is to promote awareness in the minds of a young generation of Americans of the contributions of this nation's 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. This is an objective that fits squarely within Hildene's mission: Values into Action. In the words of Hildene Executive Director Seth Bongartz, "We consider this competition to be one of the most important things we do. Not only does it reinforce the importance of research, critical analysis and good writing, but it also promotes awareness of civic responsibility using Lincoln's legacy as touchstone."

The students who accept the challenge this year are required to respond to the following question in an essay of no more than 500 words: Is civil discourse necessary for civil society? Sometimes? Always? Never? Support your position.

Essays will be evaluated by a panel of judges based on the content, the student's understanding of the subject and his or her ability to convey that understanding using good writing practices including style, composition, factual accuracy and grammar. All winners will be notified by the end of March. A celebratory luncheon will be hosted by Hildene at the Lincoln family estate on Sunday, May 19, 2013, following a tour of The Lincoln Family Home. Each winner, along with their parents, teacher, and principal will attend as Hildene's guests. The first, second and third place winners will read their essays and receive their awards. Winners will be awarded the following prizes: First Place, $1,000; Second Place, $750; Third Place, $500; and up to ten Honorable Mentions of $200 each.

Lincoln Essay Competition entry packets are still available by download at www.hildene.org /schools.html. If you have questions or would like to receive a packet by mail, call Stephanie at 802-367-7960 or email stephanie @hildene.org. Perfect Wife, Spiral Press Café and r.k. Miles are this year's sponsors.