Rowan Clough, from Harwood Union Middle School, was a second-place winner Hildene’s Eighth-Grade Lincoln Essay Competition.

Clough was among 167 Vermont eighth-graders who participated in the competition. They were asked to identify one issue facing Vermont that they thought the state (the Scott administration and/or the Legislature) should address and to write a 500-word essay describing the challenge and its negative impacts, explain why governmental action is appropriate, suggest one or more actions and explain why they think such action would improve the situation.

Clough outlined ways the state could help ensure the preservation of Vermont’s natural landscape.

Harwood Union Middle School 8th Grader Rowan Clough placed 2nd in the 2020 Hildene Lincoln Essay Competition.
Harwood Union Middle School 8th Grader Rowan Clough placed 2nd in the 2020 Hildene Lincoln Essay Competition. Photo: HUMS Twitter

A panel of judges from across the nation, through blind judging, selected the winning essays. They evaluated them based on their content, the student’s understanding of the subject and ability to convey that understanding using good writing practices including style, composition, grammar and factual accuracy.

Students focused on a wide range of issues. Climate change was the most frequently addressed topic, but students proposed ways to address other issues as well, such as affordable housing, more support for drug addiction rehabilitation and mental health facilities, gun control measures, paid family sick/parental leave, attracting and keeping a robust and younger workforce, reducing business and income taxes, bringing down the disproportionately high African American incarceration rate, preserving farms and forests, removing taxes on feminine hygiene products, and incorporating training across the board in both the school system and workforce regarding diversity, equity and inclusion.

This year’s essay competition first-place winners receive $500, second place $400, third place $300 and honorable mentions $200.

Due to the coronavirus and the need for social distancing, the winners are honored on the Hildene website, In addition to this recognition, all first-, second- and third-place winners as well as honorable mentions have recorded themselves reading their essays. Their videos will be available for viewing online on Hildene’s YouTube channel May 17 – the date they would typically have been honored in person.