Emma Plascencia Wins DAR Essay District Contest

Continues SMA’s Nine-Year Winning Streak

Fifth grader Emma Plascencia became the ninth consecutive St. Monica Academy student to win the coveted DAR District Essay Contest. Each year pupils from SMA teacher Marisela Miranda’s writing class submit 300- to 600-word essays to the Martin Severance Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Every year an SMA essay has scored higher than hundreds of other fifth grade submissions. Emma’s essay, “The Voyage of the Mayflower: On the Ocean Waves,” won at the Chapter and District level. Two years ago, Nathaniel Roger’s vivid essay on “World War I: Remembering the War to End All Wars,” won at the district, regional and state levels, finally emerging in the top five at the national level.

Miss Miranda credits the excellence of her students’ essays to two strategies: a) reworking rough drafts and b) using “tools” featured in Andrew Pudewa’s Excellence in Writing program. Starting in the fifth grade, students are required to use these “tools” frequently in their compositions. Techniques, such as, clausal openers, alliteration, three short staccato sentences, strong verbs, verb repetition, parallel constructions, and questions become commonplace in the compositions of these young authors. Note the many techniques found in the following opening paragraph, of Emma Plascencia’s winning essay.

Ocean waves tumble. The winds roar. I listen quietly. Good day, I am Hope Faith Hopkins. I am ten years old and a passenger on Mayflower. This is the first week at sea. ‘Tis not all that bad. I have family on board, and at this moment, their snores keep me awake. I do not mind. I enjoy lying awake thinking of my friends in Scrooby, England. I remember father told us we were leaving England because we were Separatists, and the King did not allow any other religion other than his. We wanted to be free to practice our faith. We sold everything and fled at night. Would we return home again?

St. Monica Academy participates in the DAR Essay Contest each year because the opportunity for competition and publication is a powerful incentive for young writers to hone their skills and deepen their understanding of important events in American History. Previous essay topics have included the French and Indian War, the Boston Tea Party, and the Stamp Act.