On Thursday, March 17th, Mr. Tom Willingham and Dr. Wes Stout from the Churchill Society of New Orleans visited Episcopal to speak with Upper School students about their 2015-2016 Essay Contest, which ends on April 15th. This year’s prompt invites students to write about Winston Churchill’s life and his qualities of defiance and magnanimity as they relate to the history of World War II. Around twenty students, including a group from Ms. Clara Howell’s AP European History class, gathered in the Writing Center during morning tutorial for donuts and conversation.
Mr. Willingham, whose father invaded Normandy with American forces on D-Day, spoke about Churchill’s significance to him personally as well as historically through his involvement in both world wars. He also emphasized Churchill’s successes as a writer, pointing out the former British prime minister’s impact through his prolific publishing of books and articles. Dr. Stout provided more information about Churchill’s life but then followed with tips for the students on writing about history and for an essay contest. Dr. Stout encouraged students to include Churchill’s memorable quotations in their essays but also cautioned them to make sure they understand the context in which each quotation was said. Similarly, he recommended that students pay close attention to the particular historical events they describe, providing specific details and dates for accuracy. The period ended with Mr. Willingham, Dr. Stout, and Ms. Howell sharing their favorite Churchill quotations and anecdotes. Mr. Willingham encouraged the students to be curious and learn about Churchill’s biography. “His life leads to everything that happened in the 20th century,” Mr. Willingham explained.
Interested students should contact Writing Center Director Ms. Julia Spaht for more information about the essay requirements. The Churchill Society of New Orleans is excited about having Episcopal students involved in their initiative. While the contest is open to students in grades 9-12 from Louisiana and Mississippi, they have not yet had any schools from Baton Rouge participate.