MANCHESTER >> For the past nine years, Hildene, informed by its mission: Values into Action, has sponsored the Lincoln Essay Competition. Earlier this fall, competition packets were distributed to teachers of 8th grade English, history, and social studies teachers, and to librarian and homeschool networks. With all materials available on line, interested students are able to enter the competition independently as well. Last year's record 236 entries came from Vermont eighth graders in 26 schools from as far north as Cabot and as far south as Halifax.
In the words of Hildene President, 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, using Lincoln's legacy as touchstone, it also promotes awareness in the minds of a young generation of Americans of the responsibility each citizen has to do her or his part to make our community, our state, our country and, even our world, a better place."
History records that President Lincoln believed slavery was a moral issue and that its eradication would lead America much closer to becoming a more perfect union. He did not always know how it would be eradicated and his strategies for ending it evolved as events unfolded both before and during the Civil War. With the passage of the 13th amendment, slavery was finally abolished. Racism, however, was not extinguished and persists in various forms today.
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: Why do you think racism persists in America: what factors contribute to its persistence and how can these factors be addressed in order to move the country toward a more perfect union?
Each student's essay and application must arrive by mail or by hand at Hildene on or before President Lincoln's birthday, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2016 by 4:30 p.m. (Hildene is open 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily). Essays will be evaluated by a panel of judges based on overall effectiveness, organization and development, use of language, mechanics, and factual accuracy.
Winners will be notified by March 31, 2016, with announcements to the press made in early May. A celebratory luncheon will be hosted by Hildene at the Lincoln family estate on Sunday, May 15, 2016, following a tour of The Lincoln Family Home. The winners, their parents, teachers, and principals will be Hildene's guests at this special event held annually to honor Abraham Lincoln's legacy. 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 available to download at www.hildene.org/schools.html. If students have questions or would like to receive a packet by mail, call Stephanie at 802.367.7960 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. This Hildene program is supported by Perfect Wife and Spiral Press Café.