To many folks, Presidents Day is a holiday marked by mattress and mall sales. But members of the Los Gatos chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution mark the February holiday by awarding prizes to students who have participated in a contest that explores America’s history through essays.
“The purpose is to inspire children to learn about and appreciate our country’s founders and history,” DAR regent Jill Hygelund said.
Ten students were recognized at a Feb. 3 DAR luncheon, where several read their winning essays and accepted American flags and other prizes for their work.
The first place good citizen award was given to Saratoga High School senior Jennie Werner, who wrote on the topic “Our American Heritage and Our Responsibility for Preserving It.” She described how the cultures of two of her friends have changed her life and how she, in turn, has taught them about her family’s traditions.
“When I moved to Saratoga, I was exposed in depth to Indian and Jewish culture for the first time. I went to my friend’s traditional dance class, and the experience piqued my interest in her Indian culture,” Jennie wrote. “Since then I have grown to appreciate her mom’s ethnic cooking and I’ve learned a few phrases in Hindi. On the other hand, my Jewish friend invites me over for Friday night dinners, complete with traditional prayers and Challah bread.”
Jennie and other competitors were given two hours to write their essays, with no opportunity for research–they were handed an envelope with the topic and had to write then and there.
The essays count 30 percent toward an award, with a student’s dependability, leadership, service and patriotism also taken into account.
Jennie’s essay concluded, “No matter our family history, we all value the freedom and opportunity of America. However, these qualities can only be preserved if we continue to share our cultures with others to make this a nation of open-minded and knowledgeable citizens.”
Jennie took home a $200 prize and second-place winner Caroline Fukawa of Presentation High School received $100. Leigh High School’s Caitlin Grimm, Branham High’s Kaeleigh Robitaille and Zoe Nilson from Prospect High were also recognized for their participation.
The DAR contest also involves fifth- to eighth-grade students. They wrote about “The Lives of Children During the American Revolution.” Eighth-grader Hamza Qadeer from the Challenger School’s Almaden campus wrote a “journal” of the life of “William Smith” that begins March 15, 1777–the day William’s father dies as a Revolutionary War prisoner.
“As I went out to the fields today, I saw our neighbor Mr. Matthews limp down the street. He was a healthy man in his early 30s when he left for the war with my father. Now he looked emaciated,” Hamza wrote.
Shortly thereafter, “William” joins the Revolution and writes, “I now lie sick with dysentery at Valley Forge. I may die and never see my family again, and I risked my life and underwent the hardships of war. But the thought that my mother and siblings may live to see the fruits of liberty assures me that my sacrifice was worth it. My fellow soldiers, my father and I gave up everything for freedom. I can only hope our posterity remembers our sacrifice and preserves the freedom we gave so much for.”
Hamza and other elementary student winners received $50, plus a certificate of recognition and an American flag. The seventh-grade winner was Jerry Peng from the Harker School. Other winners were sixth- grader Anusha Ghosh and fifth-grader Quynh Nguyen from Challenger’s Shawnee campus in San Jose.
The winner of the Christopher Columbus essay contest was Archbishop Mitty High School junior Namrata Balasingam. She wrote on the topic “How Do Americans View Christopher Columbus and George Washington Today?”
Namrata discussed the risks both men took to accomplish their objectives and wrote, “The appetite for risk-taking that these two men displayed foreshadowed the distinctly American flair for entrepreneurship that would ultimately earn the United States its exceptionalist [sic] role in the world. Today … the courage, resilience and business acumen of Columbus and Washington should serve to inspire us.”
Washington, by the way, was born on Feb. 22, 1732, and the Washington’s Birthday holiday was established in 1885. In 1971, the holiday was moved to the third Monday in February and renamed Presidents Day as a way to celebrate all presidents. This year, Presidents Day falls on Feb. 17.
For more information about the Daughters of the American Revolution, visit losgatos.californiadar.org.
DAR Topic 2017-18
Frances Bland Randolph Chapter NSDAR
"World War 1: Remembering the War to End All Wars"
The end of World War I was the beginning of a new age. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War. Imagine you are living in 1918. State where you are living and how the end of the war will impact your daily life. Discuss the pros and cons of the changes this War introduced to society and how you imagine those changes will impact the US in the years to come.
Rough Drafts should be completed the week of October 6, 2017
Final Due Date: November 3, 2017
Research sites for information to get you going:
Crash Course in WWI
Results of WWI
History.com World War I video
History.com World War I Legacy of the War video
PBS - The Great War: American Experience (You have to use a membership to view this video)
America's Homefront During WWI
YouTube Videos about WW1 Propaganda
The Atlantic - WWI Issue (Thank you for guiding me here, Tod!)
Effects of WWI on America - Historama
National Archives - WWI Centennial
World War 1 - Primary Sources - Docs Teach
PBS Newshour - How does WWI impact the US today?
From Syria to Black Lives Matter - Three ways WWI impacts America today
WWI Propaganda Slides
Library of Congress
Lots of links and information at the Library of Congress site...
Find Primary Sources for your research
Women in War
Effects of WWI on America
Great article on effects of war - and on children
How War Changed the role of Women in America
The Week.com - The Women of World War 1
Impact of WWI on Virginia
Virginia Women and the First World War
Richmond Times Dispatch WWI and Virginia's Role
I encourage you to consider asking yourself a few questions for preplanning:
- Where are you “living”?
- Have you or anyone in your “family” been directly involved in the Great War or the War Efforts on the homefront?
- Did anything (an event of the war, loss of finances, women taking on jobs, loss of property, new industry, having to move, propaganda, etc.) during the war impact your daily life?
- What were some positive changes that happened in America because of the Great War?
- What were some negative changes that happened in America because of the Great War?
- Do you think any of these changes will impact America, or the world, in years to come?
- What are your plans moving forward from 1918?
Remember this is in Google Classrooms to organize for your pre-planning. Ask Ms. Martin for the Class Code to access it online for you to type on it.
Writing the Bibliography can be tricky... students need to retain information from the resources they use to take notes. Then, they can format their bibliographies.
There are a lot more pages out there to help with Bibliographies, but these should get you started and keep you on track.
Here are some Bibliography Generators - put your information into it and they will generate your format:
Plagiarism Scavenger Hunt
Check for Plagiarism: (this is a paid site, but you can search Google for another option)
Sample for Title Page:
“World War 1: Remembering the War to End All Wars”
Hopewell, VA 23860
Carter G. Woodson Middle School
Frances Bland Randolph Chapter of NSDAR
Rubric for DAR Essay
Historical and geographic accuracy (everything is reasonable) - Includes where you are living
Stayed on topic - the student describes how the end of the war will impact their daily life
Includes pros and cons of the changes the Great War introduced to society
Organization of essay (beginning, middle, end)
Spelling and punctuation – including proper dialogue usage
Correct grammar throughout (verb tenses the same)
The student discusses how they imagine those changes will impact the US in years to come
*** Remember this paper is taking place AFTER THE WAR HAS ENDED! You are discussing changes the war brought after it has ENDED.
All Essays 600-1000 words
Times New Roman font 12-14, or handwritten in black ink