Anneka Williams, Waitsfield, an eighth-grade student at Harwood Union Middle/High School, is an honorable mention in the 2013 Hildene Lincoln Essay Competition. The winners of the 2013 Hildene Lincoln Essay Competition were selected from 145 entries submitted by eighth-grade public, independent and home study students coming from 30 Vermont schools.

The program's goal is to promote awareness in the minds of a young generation of Americans of the contributions of Abraham Lincoln.

The students who accepted the challenge this year were required to respond to the following question in an essay of no more than 500 words: "Is civil discourse necessary for civil society? Sometimes? Always? Never? Support your position." Essays were evaluated by a panel of judges based on the content, the student's understanding of the subject and his or her ability to convey that understanding using good writing practices including style, composition, factual accuracy and grammar.

Hildene applauds all participating students and teachers and congratulates the 2013 winners: first place, $1,000, Isaac Dodson, Edmunds Middle School, Burlington; second place, Sarah Mangiacotti, $750, dual student at Maple Street School, Manchester and Stratton Mountain School; third place tie, $500 each, James Reilly, Maple Street School, Manchester and Rebecca Berlind, Edmunds School, Burlington; honorable mentions, $200 each: Conor Joyce, Hartford Memorial Middle School, White River Junction; Sabrina Amorocho Laing, Edmunds Middle School, Burlington; Anneka Williams, Harwood Union Middle/High School, Moretown; Maya Homziak, Edmunds Middle School, Burlington.

Student responses came in on the side of "sometimes and always." "Never" was not an option for them. Some even noted that there have been times in the nation's history, such as the women's and civil rights movements, where civil disobedience was used as a method that led to civil discourse. The young essayists drew inspiration from a wide range of sources to come to their conclusions from research to personal experiences. These experiences included town meeting, classroom debates, role models both contemporary and historical, school based programs that address differences, and observations of the dysfunction in government that results from the absence of civil discourse.

A celebratory luncheon will be hosted by Hildene at the Lincoln family estate on Sunday, May 19, following a tour of The Lincoln Family Home. Each winner, along with their parents, teacher and principal, will attend as Hildene's guests. All Hildene Lincoln Essay Competition 2013 winners will receive their awards. The first, second and third place winners will read their essays.