Local students win in statewide history contest

By Page H. Gifford

Each year, the National Society Daughters of American Revolution (DAR) American History Committee selects a topic of historical events, mostly from the Revolutionary War. Chapters of the DAR are encouraged to sponsor the American History essay contest. Students in grades 5, 6, 7, and 8 in a public, private, or parochial school, or the home- schooled, are eligible to participate.

This year students from Fluvanna participated in the contest and some won awards. In the 6th grade, Lila Schwartz for a  Grade Level Winner and Alaina Covert will be given a State Award for 2020 from last year’s contest.

Seventh grade included winners Madison Gifford and Brennan Pezalla, a Grade Level Winner and State Award for 2021, winning 3rd, place in the National Competition.

“I’m very proud of this young man,” said DAR member Marianne Hill. In the 8th grade at the high school were Clara Inman and Abigail Taylor who is a Grade Level Winner and State Award winner for 2021.

The topic this year was the Boston Massacre. The concept for the essay is creative. Considered to be a pivotal event that paved the way to the American Revolution the essayists are to imagine they are living in Boston and, after witnessing the events of March 5, describe their family’s discussion about the Boston Massacre and what role it played in organizing the colonists against the British king and Parliament.

“These students are true storytellers, who weave their research into first-person narratives that bring history to life,” said Janet Woods, Regent Point of Fork Chapter, NSDAR.

There are rigorous criteria for the essay.

“The entire essay must be the student’s original work. This includes all research, writing, and editing, which must be done by the student and not by a parent, teacher, tutor, or other helpers. Essay submissions not following these guidelines will be disqualified. There is a recommended reading list available to each student according to grade level,” said Woods.

She added that Euxine Faix, American History Committee Chairman for Point of Fork Chapter, works closely with Virginia Staton, 6th grade social studies teacher at Fluvanna Middle School, who assists the students and makes sure the students adhere to the deadline.

 Faix, along with another chapter member and a non-DAR judge, reads all the entries and determines the chapter level winners, then forwards the winning entries to the district chairman for American history. By the time the Chapter winning essay reaches the state level it has been read and judged against essays from upwards of 127 Virginia chapters! And at the national level, there are about 3,000 chapters.

“That pretty strong competition,” said Woods.

“This is huge,” added Hill.

This is huge in today’s society where history plays a more important role more than ever. Children involved with history have a better understanding of how past events shaped our present and influence our future. Nowadays, educators are finding ways to make history interesting, exciting, and even fun so children can learn and absorb it.

The DAR has given them a unique opportunity to experience history from the perspective of those who lived through it. With history changing from the dry text of the past with little meaning to relate to; today’s students are learning in innovative ways that allow them to see the past differently and understand it.

 Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) members come from a variety of backgrounds and interests, but all share a common bond of having an ancestor who helped contribute to securing the independence of the United States of America. Any woman 18 years or older, regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background, who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution is eligible to join. Point of Fork Chapter, founded in Fork Union will be celebrating its 85th birthday on Dec. 8.

“Daughters are vibrant, active women who are passionate about community service, preserving history, educating children, as well as honoring and supporting those who serve our nation,” said Woods.

Anyone interested in information about the DAR, visit dar.org or e-mail the Point of Fork Chapter at pointofforkdar@gmail.com.

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