When he founded The Concord Review as a quarterly journal in 1987 to encourage good academic writing by secondary students, Will Fitzhugh didn’t limit essay contributions to just U.S. high school students. That’s fortunate, because the decline of writing ability is an affliction that goes beyond borders, as a recent article from the United Kingdom indicates.
“Bright youngsters … are in danger of dropping out of university because they cannot string their thoughts together to write an essay, according to the man heading a [UK] Government inquiry into exams reform,” wrote reporter Richard Garner in the U.K.’s Independent newspaper.
Since its inception 17 years ago, The Concord Review has published 638 essays, averaging more than 5,000 words each, by students of history from 43 states in the U.S. and 33 other countries.
“The Concord Review offers young people a unique incentive to think and write carefully and well,” said historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., adding the Review “inspires and honors historical literacy.”
This year marks the tenth year the Review has awarded Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes for student work of outstanding academic promise in history at the secondary level. These awards have now gone to a total of 35 high school students from 15 states in the U.S. and Czechoslovakia, New Zealand, Canada, Russia, and Japan.
This year’s awards were hosted by the History Department of The Horace Mann School in the Bronx, New York, in the afternoon on Saturday, April 17, 2004. The winners–whose essay topics included the 1892 Homestead Strike, the Bolshevik recovery in the summer of 1917, and the 1918 influenza epidemic–were:
- Jacob C. Goldberg, a senior at The Horace Mann School in New York (Amherst 2008);
- Kimberly S. Greenberg of Great Neck North High School in New York (now at Wesleyan);
- Jennifer Hsiao of Hall High School in Hartford, Connecticut (now at Princeton);
- Michael Korzinstone of Upper Canada College in Toronto, Canada (now at the Wharton School); and
- Jan Michal Zapendowski of St. Mark’s School of Dallas, Texas (now at Brown).
Each Emerson Prize laureate received a check for $3,000 and a copy of David McCullough’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, Truman. McCullough wrote that The Concord Review is “original, important, and greatly needed, now more than ever, with the problem of historic illiteracy growing steadily worse among the high school generation nearly everywhere in the country.”
Fitzhugh is currently seeking foundation support to continue publication of The Concord Review.
For more information …
Copies of essays by Emerson Prize winners are available online at the Web site of The Concord Review at http://www.tcr.org.