The response to the Silent Spring Essay Contest, offered in partnership with Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, was overwhelmingly positive. A total of 24 schools and 257 seventh grade students across the state participated. The deadline for submission was December 1, and the Reserve's Education Advisory Committee immediately got to work reading and scoring each essay. What quickly became apparent to the 17 reviewers was the widespread writing talent and environmental awareness among seventh grade students in Maine! So much so, that the Committee created an additional prize-winning category of "honorable mention" for students who did not win the top four prizes, but stood out from the larger pool of applicants with their exceptional essays. Following are the contest winners:
Grand Prize (iPad): Nick Prato, Frank Harrison Middle School, Yarmouth
Nick Prato Essay
First Prize (Digital Camera): Drake Janes, Adams School, Castine
Drake Janes Essay
Second Prize (Binoculars): Crystal Bell, Holbrook Middle School, Holden
Crystal Bell Essay
Third Prize (Bookstore Gift Certificate): Samantha McIntyre, Holbrook Middle School, Holden
Samantha McIntyre Essay
(You can also read the four winning essays here.)
Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order):
- Ethan Belesca, Frank Harrison Middle School
- Simone Chagnon, Marshwood Middle School
- Catherine Chesley, Holbrook Middle School
- Hana Delaney, Scarborough Middle School
- Kate Fogg, Holbrook Middle School
- Thomas Gause, William S. Cohen School
- Alexandra Huff, Piscataquis Community Secondary School
- Samantha Kling, Cony Schools
- Jared Merrifield, Greely Middle School
- Mackenzie Pelletier, Saint Dominic Academy
- Lance Rush, Acadia Christian School
- Emilia Ruth, Frank Harrison Middle School
- Margaret Turcotte Seavey, William S. Cohen School
- Nina Simonsen, William S. Cohen School
- Sean Tenney, Cony Schools
- Peter Theodores, Greely Middle School
- Elliot Tuttle, William S. Cohen School
- Lily Waddell, William S. Cohen School
- Katelyn White, Easton Junior Senior High School
In the coming weeks, all 257 students who participated in the contest will receive a certificate of participation. Students in the honorable mention category will also receive a paperback copy of Silent Spring. Prizes for the top four prize winners will be hand delivered in early January to each student at their school.
Winner or not, students gained a lot from this contest opportunity, evident by teacher and parent responses:
- This was a great opportunity for students to really think about Rachel Carson and how she succeeded to transform our understanding about the natural world. It generated great conversations with my students about their interactions with the natural world.
- What a wonderful opportunity you have afforded our students. I remain so pleased with what our students took away from this experience. They not only learned about what a true heroine Rachel Carson was, they also learned an entirely new way of looking at the environment and what their responsibility toward it entails. I cannot thank you folks enough.
- A wonderful result of this essay, and the requisite research on Carson needed to flesh it out, were the amazing outpourings of empathy and awareness on the part of the kids. This is such a great age to get the kids, as they are now old enough to digest and analyze, and are just beginning to formulate opinions on complex topics. Hopefully we are supporting and inspiring our next generation of stewards!
- I really appreciate the Essay Contest that you created.... I feel it challenged students, it was explained clearly, the choice of Carson's quotes and the expectation for students to give personal insights to those quotes was really effective. In this 50th year celebration of "Silent Spring" I'm finding that many young people do NOT know who Rachel Carson is....and she is so important and so interesting!! Again, thanks for taking the time to challenge students with this essay competition and for organizing the competition so thoughtfully.
- We spent time watching and reading about Rachel Carson and shared thoughts and opinions regarding Silent Spring. It has been an enjoyable month of environmental education. Thank you for leading us in this direction.
Thank you to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge for funding the essay contest, to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishers for donating Silent Spring book prizes, and to the Wells Reserve Education Advisory Committee for reading and scoring so many wonderful student essays. We are all most grateful and hope to be granted the opportunity to offer many more essay contests to Maine students in the coming years.