RANCHO SANTA FE — Twenty-one students representing five schools were honored Feb. 7 during the annual American history essay contest sponsored by the De Anza chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
In celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday, the theme was “The Ideals of the Gettysburg Address.” Students in grades five through eight were asked to describe the message Lincoln’s famous speech communicated to the war-torn nation in 1863 and how those ideals are relevant in America today.
Eleven readers evaluated 124 entries from students at Carmel Valley Middle School, The Nativity School, The Rhoades School, St. James Academy and St. John School.
Jennifer Anklesaria, chairwoman of the essay committee, said this year’s entries were “remarkably insightful.”
“Students clearly put a great deal of thought into how Lincoln’s ideals relate to today’s world,” Anklesaria said. Despite the ever-increasing lure of computer-aided Web research, the bibliographies indicated many of the students went to the library and did research in books, she said.
“This was a very difficult topic,” Anklesaria said. “This was not an essay you could just sit down and write. It was a lot of work, and all these students took time away from Wii, iPods and talking with friends to put fingers to keyboards and write outstanding essays.”
First-, second- and third-place awards, as well as an honorable mention, were given to students in each grade level from the participating schools. The winners are listed in the chart above.
Overall chapter winners were Alexis Gulbransen for sixth grade and Amy Kim for eighth grade. Their essays will be submitted for consideration at the district contest. Other eight-grade chapter winners were Jeremie Johnson, second place; Pete Fisher, third place; and Matt Friedman and Mark Wolford, honorable mention.
Thirteen-year-old Amy said she spent about one month researching and four hours writing her 600-word essay. She said her paper describes how “Lincoln was trying to unite the people for a common cause. That is similar to now,” she said. “America is trying to become united.”
The only Carmel Valley Middle School student who participated in the contest, Amy said she decided to enter because “I enjoy history and writing very much.”
“Writing is a way to express your feelings, which is good for me because I’m not an outgoing person,” she said. Amy is a member of her school’s book club and debate club. She likes to read, hang out with friends, play tennis and swim.
Founded in 1890, the Daughters of the American Revolution is a nonprofit, nonpolitical volunteer women’s service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism and preserving American history. It is open to any woman 18 or older who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution.
The De Anza chapter, which currently has 82 members, will celebrate its 75th anniversary in April. It addition to sponsoring the essay contest, the organization brings home-cooked meals once a month to wounded warriors at Camp Pendleton and sends care packages to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for injured soldiers arriving from Iraq and Afghanistan. Members also place markers on historical sites such as the Lillian Rice homes and Mission San Luis Rey.
The awards ceremony, which was held at Church of the Nativity, included a presentation by the Sons of the American Revolution color guard. Mary Todd Lincoln, aka Martha Gresham, was also on hand to help present certificates to the winners.