MANCHESTER >> Eleven winners of Hildene's tenth annual Essay Competition for 8th graders will be celebrated this Sunday at the Lincoln Family Home.

The winners were selected from a field of 237 entries from 39 schools from across the state. A celebratory luncheon will be held at noon on May 15, when all of the winners will receive their awards, and the first, second, and third place winners will read their essays.

The theme of this year's competition was racism. Students were asked, "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?"

The winning essay was written by Livia Greenberg, of the Stratton Mountain School in Stratton. She will receive a $1,000 prize. The second place winner, who will receive a $750 prize, was William O. K. Koch, also of the Stratton Mountain School. The third place winner, who will receive a $500 was Ariah Holliman, a home schooled student from Middletown Springs. Eight honorable mentions were also chosen: Jordan Sara Barbour, from Barnet School in Barnet; Emma Barker from Edmunds Middle School in Burlington; Asa Chambers, from the Stratton Mountain School; Owen Croce from the Stratton Mountain School; Zoe Cudney from Edmunds Middle School; Sadie Holmes from Charlotte Central School in Charlotte; Griffin MacFadyen from Stratton Mountain School; and Sama Mahdi, from Edmunds Middle School.


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They will each receive $200.

The winners were chosen by a panel of judges based on "the content, the students' understanding of the subject and his or her ability to convey that understanding using good writing practices including style, composition, grammar, and factual accuracy," according to Hildene press director Paula Maynard.

The winning essays will be available on Hildene's website, hildene.org, starting on May 16.

An excerpt from one student's essay was chosen as a poignant example of how the issue of racism is viewed by today's eighth graders. "Racism will never go away on its own," wrote Enrique de la Rosa of The Dorset School, "We the people need to speak up Abraham Lincoln started a movement, Martin Luther King continued it, and today many citizens of all colors are activists for change. We are making progress towards a more perfect union. Dr. King said, 'Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.' To me silence is a form of being complicit. Submitting this essay means I will not be quiet."

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.