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October 29, 2013 : AUDIO: “To Kill a Mockingbird” Essay Contest Winners Announced
essay contest winners
PHOTO ABOVE (left to right): First Place Winner Abby Archauer, Third Place Winner Rachel Longnecker, and Second Place Winner Lydia Feick

- Cheri Russo
Communications and Marketing Manager

Lancaster – The "To Kill a Mockingbird" Essay Contest at Ohio University Lancaster | Pickerington asked students to examine the novel's ideas about coming of age. The contest's first place winner, junior Abby Achauer, had no idea that she would learn a little about herself in the process.


"I learned that it is really good to not procrastinate. The essay contest came out, and I knew that if I didn't do it right then, I wouldn't do it. So, I actually went home and wrote it that night," said Achauer. "I really hoped that I would win. But my goal was to get second place. I shot for second. I didn't want to be disappointed if I didn't get first."


In at least one, but no more than three double-spaced pages, the students were asked to write with a clear thesis about one of the novel's many concerns or incidents, and how that dealt with the coming-of-age topic. The essay contest was inspired by the OUL Theatre's fall production of "To Kill a Mockingbird" and was sponsored by The Friends of the Library and the Hannah V. McCauley Library at OUL.


"When I was reading the book I didn't really think that Scout was the one who came of age the most," said Achauer. "She is obviously the main character, but I thought the really impressive person was her brother, Jem. So I wrote about how he came of age over the book."


The Berne Union graduate originally read the book in high school. The self-proclaimed "book nerd" admits it is not one of her favorite books, but Achauer, a communication major, respects it as a wonderful piece of literature.


"It is a book that you can read 1,000 times, and there's still something you can find in it," said Achauer. "Even if you don't like literature, you can respect the stance it takes."


"It was interesting seeing what scenes stuck with the students and how they chose to interpret the coming-of-age events in the novel," said Library Director Judy Carey Nevin. "Each winning essay used different events to illustrate the coming-of-age elements of the plot; many of the examples were subtle and not what I would have anticipated students noticing. The students showed great attention to detail in their reading of the novel."


Achauer's first place prize, a Coby tablet, has already changed her life. She is downloading and reading books on her tablet.


"I've never had a tablet before. I'm slowly learning how to use it," said Achauer. "It's awesome."


But she said she will still check out printed books at the library because there is just something about having a book in your hand.


Lydia Feick won second place and took home a Kindle eReader. Rachel Longnecker got third place and an iPod Shuffle.