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Essay contest asks big questions

As reported earlier this month, the Constantia chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution are capitalizing on the debates of this year’s presidential election by asking local middle school and fifth grade students to participate in the DAR essay contest.

Specifically, they asked students to make the connection of how the power of speech and expression can lead to defining moments in a country’s growth with the topic of “The Ideals of the Gettysburg Address…What message did the Gettysburg Address communicate to our war-torn nation in 1863? How are the ideals articulated in the speech still relevant for our country today?”

But, the DAR is not stopping there.

In addition to the power of speech essay contest, the DAR is kicking off a contest for fourth-graders and high school students – each with different themes and topics.

Students from fourth grade classes across the city are eligible to write a 200 to 300 word essay on what the history of the U.S. flag means to them. The essays will be judged by a panel from the DAR chapter, and will be based on neatness, grammar and punctuation, spelling, adherence to topic and a title page.

The high school students will as well be asked to put pen to the paper with their contest.

All of the high school students in the city are eligible for the Christopher Columbus Essay Contest for 2008-2009. Students are asked to discuss five perils faced by Christopher Columbus’ expedition and how Columbus and his crew overcame them.

The essays can be no more than 750 words, and should include a bibliography with all sources used listed.

The essays will be judged based on historical accuracy, adherence to topic, organization of material, interest, originality, and grammar. The chapter will choose one winner from each grade level to move on to the state competition. From state, winners will proceed to the division competition. If a student wins the division, he or she moves unto the national competition, where winners will be published with their essay and have a trip to Washington, D.C. where he/she will read the prize-winning essay on Columbus Day (Oct.8) of 2009.

The Constantia chapter is asking for submission by Monday, Nov. 24, and they are hoping teachers will encourage students to participate in the program. Students do not have to be in the public school setting to participate. Homeschoolers and private school submissions are welcomed as well.

For more information about the contest, contact Debbie Chappell at 934-3849 or Bobbie Chapman at 539-7138.