The 2006 Mildred Kirkner Memorial Essay Contest

Background of the Kirkner Contest:
With the death of longtime member Mildred Elizabeth Kirkner in March 2005, the Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society set out to creatively honor Miss Kirkner’s contribution to the Society and to her community. She loved local history, and was proud of being part of the 1939 graduating class of Tredyffrin Easttown High School.

The Society therefore organized a local history essay contest for upperclassmen at Conestoga High School (the successor to TE High School). While subject matter, definition of significance, and the time frame of the subject were left entirely to the discretion of the author, the essays needed to focus on an incident of historic significance occurring within the confines of Tredyffrin and Easttown townships. The length of these essays were to be less than 2500 words.

A Gold Prize and a Silver Prize, plus two Honorable Mentions, would be awarded. Cash awards would be given to the winners of the Gold Prize ($250.00) and the Silver Prize ($150.00), generously provided by Stephen & Raechal Finkelman, the law firm of Pepper Hamilton LLP, and the Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society.

Student Response to the Contest:
By June 5, 2006, through the energetic efforts of Conestoga history teacher and Society member Mr. John Herd, and his colleagues in the CHS history department, 23 essays had been submitted by Honors and Advanced Placement students, all Conestoga juniors. During the summer, a group of eight judges from the Tredyffrin-Easttown Historical Society read and ranked each submitted essay. There were many excellent contenders, but based upon an emphasis on historical accuracy, creativity, and the passion with which our local history was portrayed, the Gold and Silver Prize winners, plus two Honorable Mentions, were finally chosen.

L to R, Kirkner Essay winners Philip Gibson, Caroline Hager, Carolyn Fox, and Natalie Olshevski

The 2006 contest winners are:

Gold PrizeCaroline Hager. In her paper entitled “The Blue Ball Inn of Tredyffrin Township”, Miss Hager explains that in 1796, an inn was constructed on the corner of what is now Russell and Old Lancaster Roads to provide “a roof and a meal” to drovers, travelers and wagon drivers journeying between Philadelphia and Lancaster. For the next 100 years, the Inn developed an eccentric, and even an eerie, reputation, now well-told in Miss Hager's prize-winning entry.

Silver PrizePhilip Gibson won our second-place prize with his submission “The Importance of the Paoli Massacre”. Unlike others entries which simply related the tactical details of the September 21, 1777 Battle of Paoli, Mr. Gibson steps back to view the fight through the eyes of a strategist. His findings are refreshingly candid.

Honorable MentionCarolyn Fox submitted a controversial entry entitled “The Suppression of Race Relations in the Tredyffrin Easttown School District.” Miss Fox passionately argues that subtle racial discrimination still continues to this day within our community and its school district, more than 70 years after the end of the infamous “Berwyn School Fight” of 1932-34.

Honorable MentionNatalie Olshevski, in her essay “History in My Neighborhood”, relates her curiosity concerning the origins of many of the placenames within this community. Miss Olshevski sets out to satisfy that curiosity, and that of many of her readers, with the interesting background behind many common but ignored Main Line names and places.

Awards Are Publicly Announced:
The Contest awards were publicly announced to the winners on September 28, 2006 by Mr. Roger Thorne, president of the Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society. The announcement was made in the office of Conestoga High School principal Dr. Timothy Donovan, with the involvement of Dr. Donovan and Mr. Herd.

Mr. Thorne, president of the Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society, congratulates Silver Prize winner Philip Gibson,
while Gold Prize winner Carolyn Hager and Dr. Donovan, principal of Conestoga High School, look on.

Award Presentation On Sunday, October 15, 2006:

At the regularly scheduled meeting of the Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society, prizes and commemorative plaques were publicly awarded to the Kirkner Contest winners. That meeting, open to the public, was held at 2:00 p.m. at the Easttown Library & Information Center, 720 First Avenue, Berwyn, PA. We were glad to welcome all who attended to show support for this fine student involvement.

Mr. Thorne presents Honorable Mention
prize award to Carolyn Fox.

Mr. Thorne presents Gold Prize award
to Carolyn Hager with Mr. John Herd looking on.

Mr. Thorne presents Honorable Mention
prize award to Natalie Olshevski.

Publishing the Winning Essays:
The Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society will present the full-length manuscripts of both the Gold and Silver Prize essays, and potentially the Honorable Mention entries, within the Tredyffrin Easttown History Quarterly. All permanent rights for these respective essays will remain with the students who wrote them.

Public Presentation of the Prize-Winning Essays:
The authors of the Gold and Silver Prize essays have been invited to publicly present their work to members, friends, and the general public at two designated meetings of the Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society. The Gold Prize essay by Miss Hager on “The Blue Ball Inn of Tredyffrin Township” will be the featured presentation of the Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society on Sunday November 19, 2006. The meeting will be held at 2:00 p.m. at the Easttown Library & Information Center, 720 First Avenue, Berwyn, PA. Mr. Gibson’s essay will be presented at a monthly meeting early in 2007.


Page last updated: 2007-07-17 at 11:05 EDT
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