Four Richard Bernotas Middle School eighth-graders recently were recognized as top finishers in the American History Essay Contest sponsored by the Kishwaukee Trail chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Katelyn Hansen finished in first place, Emma Podpora finished second, and Benjamin Kovarik tied with Bethany Sternberg in third place.
The contest – open to fifth- through eighth-grade students in public, private and parochial schools and registered home-study programs – was established to encourage young people to think creatively about U.S. history and to learn about history in a new light.
This year’s theme was the women’s suffrage movement. Eligible students were encouraged to write a journal entry (in 1,000 words or fewer) about the pros and cons of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Submissions were judged based on historical accuracy, adherence to the topic, organization of material, interest, originality, spelling, grammar, punctuation and neatness. Students in Mrs. Bowman’s language arts/social studies classes were invited to submit an entry for this year’s contest.
As a first-place finisher in the local competition, Hansen’s essay was submitted to the state American history chairman for consideration for the regional competition.
Hansen recently learned that she took first place in the Illinois District II division, and she now will advance to the next level of the state competition.
“I don’t think I’ve ever researched this much on a topic before,” said Hansen, who will be a freshman at Crystal Lake South High School next year. “What I learned is that it took so much for women to get equal rights, and even then, what they got didn’t apply to all women.”
Hansen said she learned she was really interested in the topic and may consider exploring other historical aspects of the country in the future. She may even consider a career as a writer or journalist.
“I feel like there’s a whole new window of opportunity,” she said.
All Bernotas top finishers in the DAR contest will attend an award ceremony March 3 at McHenry County College, where they will be recognized for their achievements.