With graduation less than four months away, time is getting busy for seniors at Thomson High School. But four of them recently took time to meditate on the past. Amanda Acosta, Andrea Culpepper, Tse'Lani Drew and Tiffany Rowland were nominees of the annual Good Citizen contest sponsored by the DAR.
"I appreciate y'all four doing this," David Jopling of Sun Trust Bank, said during an awards ceremony last Wednesday. "I know the senior year is exciting and full of activities, so thank you for participating."
To participate in the contest, students are first nominated by each school's faculty or a DAR member, then that list is narrowed. Those students are given two hours to write an essay on "our American heritage, and our responsibility to preserve it." Judges for the contest are given anonymous copies of the essays, which they evaluate on organization, historical accuracy, content, originality and grammar. In addition to the essay, the nominees are evaluated on their school activities, community service, work ethics, leadership and patriotism.
The overall winner of the Good Citizen Award was Amanda Acosta, the daughter of Terry and Debra Boutwell. Amanda's name will be added to the Good Citizen plaque at the high school.
The Captain John Wilson Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution sponsors the local contest each year. An awards ceremony, which also included winners of the American History Essay contest, was held for the participating students, their families and teachers in the meeting room of the Thomson-McDuffie County Library.
During the ceremony, Amanda read her essay aloud, before she was presented a savings bond by Mr. Jopling.
This is the second year the local DAR has sponsored the American History Essay Contest for fifth graders.
"We want to encourage interest in history and arouse the students' enthusiasm for the state of history," said Virginia White, a DAR member. "When we are aware of what happened in the past, we see how the present is related."
Like the high school contest, students for the American History contest are nominated by each school's faculty or a DAR member. This year's nominees were Kasey Parker McTier, Arisa Mendez and Kennedy Sams for Dearing Elementary School and Drue Poston, Brian Smith and Johna Wright for Norris Elementary School. The students were allowed to write essays on their own time about "the ideals of the Gettysburg Address." Judges were Ann Poss, Rose McNeil and Joy Smith. The overall winner and DES winner was Kennedy Sams and the NES winner was Johna Wright.
"I was surprised, because in my class there was a lot of good essays," Johna said after the ceremony.
The nominees were presented a certificate of participation and the girls received a charm of Constitution Hall, while the boys received a book mark. The winners also received a silver medal.
Kennedy and Johna also read aloud their essays during the ceremony, and received a savings bond from First Bank of Georgia Senior Vice President George Lokey.
"I want to thank all the participants," Mr. Lokey said. "It's kind of hard to get folks to do things like this. It's too easy to take the easy way out, but you are to be commended for working at this."
Amanda and Kennedy will go on to represent the local chapter at the district and state level of competition.
The Ideals of the Gettysburg Address, by Kennedy Sams, DES
One of the major battles of the American Civil War was the Battle of Gettysburg which was fought in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1863. Two purposes for this battle were to make there be peace among the people of the North and to make Great Britain and other European nations recognize the new government in the South.
Congressmen in the North felt that slavery should not be allowed. Congressmen in the South felt like the Federal Government had no right to say that slavery would not be allowed.
General Robert E. Lee led the army of Northern Virginia in the Battle of Gettysburg and was defeated. Dead, wounded and missing confederate soldiers totaled about 28,000. More than 7,000 soldiers, Northern and Southern, were buried in temporary graves near where they were killed.
Land was purchased on Cemetery Ridge for a permanent military cemetery. The dead Union soldiers and many unidentified bodies were dug up and reburied in the cemetery. On November 19, 1863, there was a dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery on top of Cemetery Hill. President Abraham Lincoln gave a famous speech known as the Gettysburg Address.
President Lincoln carefully prepared this speech to communicate to our war-torn nation that all men are created equal. The Union victory at Gettysburg was very important and President Lincoln wanted his speech to express how deeply he felt for the men that gave their lives to make this victory and our freedom possible.
President Lincoln wanted them to know that the soldiers had not died in vain. The idea of the Civil War, according to President Lincoln, was that the people of the United States should fight to victory so that a nation founded in liberty and dedicated to the idea that all men are created equal would not perish from the earth. The Union had to win the Battle of Gettysburg to prove that a nation founded on these principles could actually last. The ideals in the speech are still relevant for our country today, because our Founding Fathers created a government on the belief that all men have an equal right to liberty and freedom. Also, so we could be a government of the people, by the people and for the people in which we govern ourselves through free elections. The Gettysburg Address was telling people not to forget the reason our men fought and died. They gave their lives to save our government and our way of life. Generation after generation must continue to work for the same cause.
The Ideals of the Gettysburg Address, by Johna Wright, NES
The Gettysburg Address has many implications. It also has what we call ideals which we are talking about today. The three ideals that I think are important in the Gettysburg Address, written by President Abram Lincoln, are: 1.) That all men and women are created equally. 2.) That we should respect and honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives in the Civil War. 3.) That we should rededicate ourselves to what happened in the war, to never forget nor try to out do those peoples' actions in the Civil War.
The Gettysburg Address was only two minutes long, but has more of a meaning than you think. First, it states how men and women are created equally. No one should be treated unfairly, differently, or misjudged by their skin color, gender, age, or heritage. The Gettysburg Address also states that we came to this nation, and this nation was dedicated to the proposition that all men and women are created equally. My philosophy is, "If you are judging someone, you might as well be judging yourself."
When our fathers came here, they were seeking freedom. They had no intentions of being rude, judgmental or critical to anyone. That is the first ideal of the Gettysburg Address.
Secondly, we should respect, honor and think about all of the people who sacrificed, or gave up, their lives in the Civil War. They were fighting for our country; whether they were fighting for the Union or the Confederacy, that doesn't matter, just as long as they were out there, on the battlefield, fighting. We should not mock the men, women and children who died. But, we should be very proud of those people who fought just so we could be happy and do what we want today.
Stop and think, think about the people in the wars. Think about the people who died in the wars. And, think about the innocent civilians who were put to a horrible and painful death.
Finally, the third and last ideal that I am talking about today, that we should rededicate ourselves to what happened in the war, and never try to out do those who died. No one should ever try to overcome any feat and think that you are better than those in the war. You should never think you are better than anyone! Now, we think back on the first ideal, that we are all equal. No one is better than anyone else.
Some people do not think about the war. They are selfish, or only worry about themselves. These self-centered people should think about the war and never forget what happened at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania or any other battlefield. These people should show more generosity and place others before themselves.
People should actually stop and read the speech. Then they would realize that it is one of the most important speeches ever made in history. They would recognize the ideals of the Gettysburg Address. On the other hand, there are some people who do recognize the ideals and cherish the speech.
Just remember the message given by the speech. If you don't understand some of the things that I am saying, then look in the Gettysburg address and read it. Think about what it states. The Gettysburg Address is very important and delivers a voice to the people of this country. Se if you can find another big ideal from President Lincoln's famous two minute long address spoken at Gettysburg.