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Nitro High School student winner of 2012 Christopher Columbus Essay test

Apr. 06, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

The Kanawha Valley Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution is pleased to announce that Grace Smiley, a senior at Nitro High School, is the chapter winner of the 2012 Christopher Columbus Essay test. Since l996, the NSDAR has joined with the National Italian American Foundation to sponsor an annual national essay contest on Christopher Columbus. The contest is open to students in grades 9 through 12 in public, private, or parochial schools, or those who are home schooled. This contest is conducted without regard to race, religion, sex or national origin.

Smiley did an outstanding job in researching and writing about this year's topic, which was to discuss Christopher Columbus in his own time, in history, and today. Students were asked to describe Christopher Columbus as he was understood in three time periods: What did 15th century people think about his accomplishments? How did 19th century historians view him? How did Columbus, who had primitive ships and no computers or modern navigation equipment, affect our lives today?

John and Debbie Smiley of Cross Lanes are the proud parents of Smiley, who is the youngest of their five children. Her mother said that Smiley's passion is ballet. She is a member of the River Cities Ballet Company and plans to attend Radford University in the fall and major in dance therapy to prepare her to use dance and music in a career helping children with disabilities. Smiley is active in many organizations, including the National Honor Society, the National Math Society, and is a Senior Class Officer. She is also active in the youth group of her church. This well-rounded and compassionate young lady is a great cook, loves working with children and helps to care for her 93-year-old grandmother.

Smiley's essay has been submitted to the WVDAR State American History Chairman for judging. The state winners are forwarded to the division vice chairmen for judging; division winners are forwarded to the National Vice Chairman for the Christopher Columbus Essay, who in turn forwards them to the National Italian American Foundation for judging.

First-, second-, and third-place national winners are selected after judging by the National Italian American Foundation. To qualify for first place, the winner must be able to go to Washington, D.C., in October to read his or her winning essay at the Christopher Columbus Celebration. The first-place national winner receives $1,200 from the NIAF in addition to paid lodging and transportation to Washington, D.C., in October for the winner and one parent or guardian. The second-place national winner receives $500, and the third-place national winner receives $300.

Smiley, her parents and grandmother will be the guests of the Kanawha Valley Chapter at their luncheon on April 14, at the St. Andrews United Methodist Church in St. Albans, where she will be presented a certificate and monetary award. The chapter wishes Smiley the best in the next levels of judging.

Shirley M. Gilkeson is an Honorary Regent of the Kanawha Valley Chapter of the West Virginia Daughters of the American Revolution. She can be reached at SGilkeson@aol.com.

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