Read the Best of High School Writing

Published September 1, 2000

Schools with low standards, teachers with low expectations, and students who dislike to read, cannot write, and are ignorant of history. We’re all too familiar with the problem, but what can one person do about it?

Reflecting on that question 13 years ago, high school history teacher Will Fitzhugh realized he could show students the high standard they should be aiming for by publishing the best essays of high school students in a quarterly academic journal. Not only would this recognize and encourage students who took their work seriously enough to produce soundly researched and well-written essays worthy of publication, but it also would challenge other students to match standards set by their peers.

Fitzhugh began publishing The Concord Review from his Sudbury, Massachusetts home in 1987. A year later he quit his day job to work full-time on the Review, gathering essays from high school students around the country–and now around the world–and selecting about 10 of those essays for publication in the Review each quarter. Since 1987, he has published over 450 exemplary essays by secondary students from 38 states and 25 countries on a wide range of topics. Each essay is about 5,000 words, with endnotes and annotated bibliography.

“The GI Bill,” by Stephanie Swanson of Blake School, Minneapolis, Minnesota, is the first essay in the Winter 1999 issue of The Concord Review. Then-Col. H. Norman Schwarzkopf trained the police force in Iran during the early 1950s and is a player in the Eisenhower-era events described in “Iran Policy,” an article in the same issue by Carla Federman of Barstow School, Kansas City, Missouri.

Hana S. Field was awarded $5,000 for this year’s Gilder Lehrman Essay Prize for her 1999 Review essay on the efforts of American libraries to keep L. Frank Baum’s classic children’s story, The Wizard of Oz, off their shelves. For example, until the prohibition was lifted in 1972, the Detroit Public Library had banned the book for 30 years. Field wrote her essay when she was a student at Chicago’s Francis W. Parker School.

For more information …

The Concord Review has a Web site,, with information and 39 sample essays, so that high school teachers and students may learn more about the publication, find out how to subscribe, fill out the form to send with essays, or send an email message to [email protected].