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OB-EN Writers Win Awards at RHM’s Great Presidents Contest

Educational excitement in the OB-EN school halls extends to Raynham Hall Museum

Educational enrichment comes in many forms. The classrooms of the Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School and the James H. Vernon School are often buzzing with excitement as parents and friends share in many writing celebrations with students as young as kindergarten ages. These celebrations and the reading and writing programs in place in the Oyster Bay-East Norwich schools have been praised by the Columbia University Teachers College and visited and studied by teachers from other districts all over Long Island.

The PTA is actively involved in inspiring aspiring young writers with their award-winning annual PARP (Parents as Reading Partners) program and by helping to bring published authors to the schools. These programs plant the seeds in our youngest students that can now be seen bearing fruit as students have won awards for their writing skills.

Great Presidents Contest

In February, students from schools around Long Island entered the Great Presidents Contest hosted by The Friends of Raynham Hall Museum.

Raynham Hall located at 20 West Main Street, is an historical gem in the heart of Oyster Bay. In 1738, Samuel Townsend purchased the property that is now Raynham Hall. During the American Revolution, the Townsend home served as British headquarters for the Queen’s Rangers led by Lt. Col. John Graves Simcoe.

Raynham Hall was also the home of Robert Townsend, known as Culper Junior when he was a part of General George Washington’s spy ring.

Young students entering the Great Presidents Contest could practically relive history. With so many entries the decisions were incredibly difficult.

The Contest Winners

This year’s Great President Contest entry winners in the second grade were Emily Shaw from Ms. Brunken’s class; and Katie Shaw from Ms. Cowan’s class; they are sisters and attend the Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School in Oyster Bay.

Winners in the third grade included, in first place, Millie Giraldi from Ms. Nancy Flately’s class at the James H. Vernon School with an entry on Theodore Roosevelt.  Second place went to Ava Aschettino from Ms. Kelly Brandt’s class at the James H. Vernon with an entry on Ronald Reagan.

Winners in the fourth grade were Sydney Rothschild and Sarah Kim from Harbor Hills Elementary School of Roslyn.

Winner in first place in the fifth grade category was Gus Girardi of Ms. Diana Hauser’s class, at Vernon, who won with his essay on George Washington.

“Raynham Hall’s judges enjoyed reading all of the entries into the contest and look forward to more excellent entries next year!,” said Steve Waldenburg III, Raynham Hall education coordinator.

“The Friends of Raynham Hall would like to thank each and every student who submitted an entry into the contest and encourage everyone to keep an eye out for next year’s contest and for upcoming programs, including summer workshops,” added RHM Director Harriet Gerard Clark.

Here are two of the First Place Essays:

My Favorite President

By Millie Girardi
Grade 3, Ms. Flately, Vernon School

My favorite president is Theodore Roosevelt. I like him because I have a lot in common with him and he had a lot of qualities I would like to have when I get older.

Theodore Roosevelt and I are alike in many ways.  We were both born in New York City.  Later in our lives we both moved to Oyster Bay.  Theodore Roosevelt and I both traveled to Europe as children.  We also love animals and outdoor activities.

I would like to have many of Theodore Roosevelt’s qualities when I grow up.  I would like to have his bravery when he led the Rough Riders as they charged San Juan Hill.  Theodore Roosevelt didn’t give up.  He was persistent in his fight to build the Panama Canal and when he fought big businesses and was called a “Trust Buster” by the newspapers.  I would like to be active like Theodore Roosevelt. 

He had a big family.  He had many jobs including cowboy, New York State Assemblyman two times, governor of New York, vice president and president of the United States.  I would like to help the poor.  Theodore Roosevelt raised taxes on big businesses to pay for services to help the needy.  And finally, I would like to work for peace.  Theodore Roosevelt won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end the Russian-Japanese War.

Theodore Roosevelt was a great president.  He was brave, persistent, active and caring.  That’s why he is my favorite president.

George Washington

By Gus Girardi
Grade 5,  Ms. Hauser Vernon School

George Washington is my favorite president. I admire him for his bravery, perseverance, and wisdom.  But the thing that made him extra special was his ability to say “no” to excessive power and glory.

When George was only 16 years old, he went on an expedition in the Virginia frontier.  He was determined to command a royal warship.  He wanted to grow up and “be someone.”  He had a great mind. 

George Washington’s bravery was shown when he took big jobs such as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army to defeat the British in the Revolutionary War. To be commander-in-chief took great guts. He had to face the most powerful empire in the world. If he failed, his country would be ruined and he would be arrested and executed. He lost many battles, including the Battle of Brooklyn, but he never gave up. When congress urged him to go fight the British although they knew he wasn’t prepared, George Washington said “no.”  He was determined to win the war, not battles.

George Washington’s presidency shows his perseverance and restraint.  He did not want to be president, but he did it for his country.  He kept the new country out of the French Revolution.  He maintained a neutral position between the Hamilton Federalists who supported a strong central government and the Jefferson Democratic-Republicans who supported the power of the people and states’ rights.  He was brave in battle for the last time when he and the troops fought the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794.  After two terms of office, George Washington stepped down as president.  People wanted him to be king but George Washington refused.  He didn’t want the republic to crumble.

George Washington was a truly great president. He cared a lot about our country. He helped grow a new nation with his qualities. All of his decisions were focused on the future of the new nation not his own glory.  He deserves the title “the father of our country.”