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August - 2012:

Bicentennial Essay Contest announced

October 4, 2013:

Oxford Press news article:

"Student essay contest winners announced"

As noted on the poster image at the right, the contest was limited to Talawanda School District students who were enrolled in grades four, five, six, seven, or eight during the 2012-2013 school year.

Appropriately, Dale Bufler and Fred Lindley sought and received permission from the principals of the Talwawanda Middle School and Bogan Elementary School, prior to announcing the contest. Information letters were prepared and disseminated to the targeted Language Arts teachers at the beginning of the school year.  The deadline for entries to be submitted was May 1, 2013.

The poster at the right was displayed on the Darrtown website and in several Darrtown.com newsletters.

By Bob Ratterman - Contributing Writer

"Essay contest winners focus on Darrtown history


OXFORD — Interest in the history of their community netted six Talawanda School District students some extra money last week after they were announced as winners of the Darrtown Bicentennial Essay Contest.

Three students from Bogan Elementary and three from Talawanda Middle School were surprised with the announcements they had won the prizes in the essay contest, sponsored by The Oxford Press and the Hamilton Journal News.

Elementary winners were Jeb Burton, first place winner; Taylor Cornett, second place winner; and Megan Minnielli, third place.

The top three in the middle school division of the contest were Rhonda Krehbiel, Stevie Walszy and Hanna Kresse, respectively.

The two first-place winners received checks for $100 each, with $60 going to the second-place winners and $40 for third place.

Fred Lindley, a member of the Bicentennial planning committee and former principal of Somerville School, made the presentations at each school Sept. 26. Also on hand for the presentations was Dale Bufler, former principal of Stewart Junior High.

The essays were written during the last school year and submitted to the Darrtown committee in May. The presentation was a surprise to the winners at both schools. Talawanda Middle School Principal Mike Malone invited the winners’ teachers to bring their present classes to the cafeteria for the announcement as well as the winners’ parents. The three were unsure what was going on when they saw those classes and several of their parents there. Lindley quickly put their minds at ease and announced the winners and then presented them with checks for their prizes. He reminded them that, ”teachers made it possible,” not only by encouraging them to enter the contest but also by teaching them the reading and research skills that they used in writing their essays.

Krehbiel’s winning essay was about a community Christmas party in the 1950s in Darrtown. “It was thrown every year,” she said. “It was a big crowd and they ran out of goodie bags so (organizer Earl “Red” Huber) gave them money. It was not a big thing but it jumped out at me.”

The second-place essay by Walszy was about the late Walter “Smokey” Alston, a Darrtown resident who managed the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers for 24 years. She said her family is interested in baseball and the choice of that topic was natural to her. “My grandpa passed away recently and he was huge baseball fan,” she said. “I looked on the website and it jumped out. It had a lot to do with my family.”

Kresse wrote her third-place winning essay about one of the early settlers of the community, a German immigrant who was a blacksmith and a contributor to the community’s life. “It was cool how he adapted to things,” she said. “I enjoy history. I just went to the (Web) page with a collection of names.”

Later that day, Lindley and Bufler visited Bogan Elementary with a little less fanfare, but announced that school’s three winners and again handed out checks. Principal Teresa Woodin sent for the three winners who came into the office area about the same time. It was intended as a surprise, and Taylor Cornett, the second-place winner, was concerned about it at first but figured out what was up when she recognized Lindley. “I was afraid I was in trouble but when I saw him, I thought he has something to do with the bicentennial,” she said. I love to write and I love to read. I was excited about this, not only that it involved money. I spent a lot of time on it.”

The three received their checks and had pictures taken in front of the school. Burton’s first-place essay was about Lane’s Mill and included photos of the mill which is near his home. “Every day when I would go down the street, I would see it,” he said. He said he looked for information and photos on the Internet and wrote his essay looking back to the rebuilding of the mill and what he would expect to see if he could go back in time to visit the mill and its owner William Elliot.

Cornett used the inspiration of her grandmother and a daydream to recreate the visit of a circus to Darrtown for her second-place essay. She said she imagined a cornet band playing for the circus and that she likes that instrument because it is her last name. She said she sat on the steps outside the Hitching Post looking at an open area where the circus might have been and could imagine the band and the circus right there. “I heard the crash and it was the cornet band,” she said. “My grandma knew about. She told me about all that stuff.”

Minnielli, third place winner, said she wrote about wanting to go back to the 1830s to see life in the early days of Darrtown. Much of her research was done on the Bicentennial website created by the committee for the celebration. She encouraged area residents to look at the website. “I got it all on the website. I used that a lot. I got more information after they updated it,” she said. Lindley told the winners at both schools the celebration will be July 5 and 6."

In an attempt to raise awareness of the 2014 Darrtown Bicentennial, the Bicentennial Steering Committee sponsored a student essay contest during the 2012-2013 school year. Committee members Dale Bufler and Fred Lindley drew upon their experience as former school administrators to spearhead this effort.

Student Essay Contest

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