Girls show they have 'write stuff'

March 21, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

Corrie Ten Boom - a woman who was imprisoned for shielding Jews from the Gestapo.

Sarah Breedlove Walker - a woman who lifted herself out of poverty selling hair care products.

Rose Hawthorne - a woman who devoted her life to incurable cancer patients.

They were the inspirations for three Washington County girls whose essays won a Women's History Month contest.

Colleen Keely's essay on Ten Boom earned first place and $200.

Meredith Sumner, who wrote about Walker, came in second. She received $100.

Katie Rock came in third and received $50. She wrote about Hawthorne.

This is the eighth time the Washington County Commission for Women has held the contest. This year, the topic was "Poster Women."


And this year, boys wrote, too.

About 40 percent of the 29 entries were submitted by boys, said Catherine Schoen, president of the Commission for Women.

The contest was open to Washington County public, private and home-schooled students in grades 8 through 12.

The Commission for Women suggested many possibilities - Rosie the Riveter, Indira Ghandi, Barbara Mikulski, Susan B. Anthony, Clare Booth Luce and a dozen others.

A few contestants picked names from the list, but most went with their own ideas.

Students profiled photographer Diane Arbus, author Ann Coulter, gorilla expert Dian Fossey, Egyptian ruler Pharaoh Hatshepsut and talk show host Oprah Winfrey, among others.

The 29 essays produced 26 different subjects.

Colleen, 14, said she has known of Ten Boom for several years by hearing about her at home.

Colleen - a home-schooled ninth-grader who lives east of Hagerstown - said she chose Ten Boom for "her courage and how self-sacrificing she was. She risked her life on many occasions. She kept her faith."

Asked if there were a parallel between Ten Boom's life and hers, Colleen said, "She was a Christian and so am I. She trusted in God through really hard times. ... I can in smaller circumstances."

Meredith, 14, who lives south of Williamsport, is an eighth-grader at Springfield Middle School.

She said she searched for ideas by flipping through a school assignment planner that lists interesting people in it.

Walker - who later was known as Madame C.J. Walker - "interested me because all girls are into hair care products ..." Meredith said. "Because she was a self-made millionaire."

Meredith said she respects Walker's motivation and suffering.

Katie, 13, who lives northeast of Hagerstown, also is home-schooled.

She said she discovered Hawthorne in a magazine article and found an immediate connection to "her selfless spirit of giving, her willingness to help others ... her leadership."

In fact, Katie wants to join Hawthorne's Dominican order of nuns.

Meredith has no career ideas in mind.

"I'd like to be a French translator," Colleen said. "But I would love to write. So, either one."

All three girls said they enjoy writing. Meredith is interested in short stories. Colleen likes poetry. Katie writes essays - and letters, preferring longhand to e-mail.

Schoen said she could imagine all three winning essays faring well in a college class.

The Commission for Women also gave each girl a book to donate to Girls Inc. in Hagerstown to start a reference library.

Colleen presented "Women of Achievement in Maryland History" by Carolyn B. Stegman.

Meredith presented "Enterprising Women: 250 Years of American Business" by Virginia G. Drachman.

Katie presented "Open Wide the Freedom Gates" by Dorothy Height.

Colleen's and Katie's books were signed by the author.

Program Director Melissa Butsch accepted the books on behalf of Girls Inc. She said they'll come in handy for the Junior Leadership program, in which girls have to write essays.

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