MAUMS student gets honorable mention in essay contest

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BENNINGTON — A Mount Anthony Union Middle School student has been given an honorable mention in Hildene's annual essay contest.

Eighth-grader Joshua Snide was one of five students selected for an honorable mention, and will receive $200, as was Iren Santana Hangen Vazquez of Dorset's Long Trail School.

This year, the 12th annual competition and the 10th year the contest has been open to students from across the state, the essay prompt was "Describe a current or recent event in which the actions of the participant(s) may be viewed as patriotic by some and as unpatriotic by others. Discuss the differing points of view. What is your position and why?" Students were asked to respond in fewer than 500 words, and the essay were graded by a panel of judges. The contest was open to all Vermont eighth graders.

Common topics among the 187 entries from students in 38 schools across the state included the removal of Confederate statues, NFL players taking the knee in protest during the national anthem, the Women's March on Washington, the president's travel ban for eight predominately Muslim countries, efforts to ban transgender people from serving in the military, Edward Snowden's actions, and granting citizenship to illegal aliens who are US veterans.

Snide said that he was one of 38 students to write about the football controversy. He said that he feels really good about winning, and that he learns about current events from his favorite radio station, NPR.

This year's winner was Rebecca Cunningham from Edmunds Middle School in Burlington. She will receive $1,000. The second place winner and third place winners, Dahlia Ruben and Elise Pricer, who will receive $750 and $500 respectively, are both also from Edmunds. The other honorable mentions were Anna Diebold and Julia Keeton also of Edmunds, and Skylar Platt of Harwood Union Middle School.

Snide and the other winners will be honored at a celebratory luncheon hosted by Hildene at The Lincoln Family Home on Sunday, May 20, where the first, second, and third place winners will read their essays aloud.

Hildene said in a press release, "Before taking on the 2018 challenge, students were asked to grapple with the concept of what it means to be a patriotic American. This is a topic that can sometimes lead to heated debate, thus students were made aware that in his time, President Lincoln was viewed as both a traitor and a patriot. Many Americans believed his actions to abolish slavery threatened their economic livelihood and flew in the face of the constitution and their idea of American freedom. Others came to view President Lincoln as the epitome of patriotism because he wished to preserve the Union at all costs and because he knew the Union could not allow slavery and be a true democracy with justice for all: the 'last best hope of Earth.' Today the nation is again deeply divided on many issues and among them is the concept of patriotism."

Derek Carson can be reached at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.

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