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LHS students pen winning essays

Jason Robertson and Katherine Devenuto were honored yesterday by the Norfolk Historical Society for their individual entries in the George Holbert Tucker Essay Competition.

The competition is an annual event held by the Norfolk Historical Society for more than twenty years. Students from all 36 schools in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach and Suffolk had the opportunity to submit an essay. Students in Mrs. India Meissel’s Dual Credit history class were encouraged to submit essays for class credit, as well as the chance of winning. Remarkably, of all the essays submitted, two of the top three winners of the area came from the same class at Lakeland.

&uot;Last year, all three (winners) came from the same school,&uot; said Contest Judge and Norfolk City Historian, Peggy Haile McPhillips. &uot;I think it’s a reflection, not entirely of the kids, but the support they get from their teachers&uot;

The theme for this year’s essay contest was &uot;The impact of the Civil War in Hampton Roads, 1861 – 1865.&uot; Essays poured in from all over South Hampton Roads and judges read each essay and looked for concept and idea development, historical authenticity and compelling writing on the part of the author.

Jason Robertson was awarded second place in the competition and Katherine Devenuto placed third. Robertson was given a $300 check, and Devenuto a $200 check.

&uot;I feel oddly flattered,&uot; Robertson said. &uot;I was just doing what I enjoy doing.&uot;

Both Robertson and Devenuto wrote about the

While the competition has been around for more than two decades, it was more recently renamed to honor a renowned local historian and journalist, George Holbert Tucker. Tucker wrote a weekly historical column for The Virginian Pilot for fifty years. Two years ago, Tucker passed away at the age of 95. At the time, he was still writing a column every week.

In honor of Tucker’s work, as well as to combat the misconception of history, Norfolk Historical Society members look forward to holding the contest to see what the youth in the area have to say about history.

&uot;One of the biggest obstacles is history is dry and boring,&uot; said Norfolk Historical Society President, Louis Guy. &uot;And it isn’t. It’s about people. It’s about stories. (Tucker) was wonderful about illuminating those stories.&uot;

Guy presented the checks to Robertson and Devenuto at a small assembly held at Lakeland’s library. Family, members of the Norfolk Historical Society, and the Dual Credit history class were in attendance as Guy gave a brief speech on the importance of history. Quoting historian David McCullough, he told the students present that &uot;the importance of history is not adequately appreciated in the United States.&uot; Guy then added history is our barometer to answer the question of &uot;Do we need to do better than this or is this as good as it gets?&uot;

To read the winning essays, visit the Norfolk Historical Society’s website at www.norfolkhistorical.org

Lauren.wicks@suffolknewsherald.com