Annual essay contest continues to grow

PLATTSBURGH - The Battle of Plattsburgh Association has had an annual essay contest for students in grades 4-12 for the last five years. However, last year the contest reached new levels with the help of KeyBank.

Three years ago, KeyBank "realized the significance of the Battle of Plattsburgh weekend and decided to throw in their support," explained BOPA education committee chairperson Kate Besaw.

"People have realized that the Battle of Plattsburgh weekend is the signature event [of Plattsburgh]," Besaw said.

Becoming a sponsor of BOP weekend, KeyBank "emphasized that they wanted part of the money to be a part of the educational process," said Besaw. "[They] wanted to benefit education in some way."

Now, KeyBank annually donates $1,050 to be used for the essay contest's top three winners in each grade category, which includes grades 4-5, 6-8 and 9-12. Two-hundred dollars is given for first place, $100 for second and $50 for third.

"Last year was the biggest year we've ever had, but was also the largest incentive we've ever offered," said Besaw, adding more than 60 students took part in this tri-county contest.

Last year, and continuing this year, the essay asks each student to "assume the persona of a Plattsburgh community member in 1814, whether it is a powder monkey, drummer boy, citizen of the community, or son/daughter of a merchant or military member," according to a press release provided by BOPA.

Although grammar is scored as a part of the essay criteria, Besaw said that is not the most important part of the essay.

"We're more interested in the child falling back in the time tunnel and trying to experience being what it was like to have been a child at his or her age at the Battle of Plattsburgh."

Each essay is to be about 250 words, written in first person and must be historically accurate.

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