DRACUT — They pushed history forward.
Women like Victoria Woodhul, Amelia Earhart, Anne Sullivan and Oprah Winfrey. These women, along with Harriet Tubman, Hillary Clinton, Sally Ride, Elizabeth Blackwell, Molly Williams, Brenda Berkman and others, were the inspiration for the essays written by students at the Dracut Elementary, Intermediate and Junior High schools during the month of March, which is also Women In History Month.
Hailey Rousseau, a seventh-grader at the Lakeview Junior High School, earned an honorable mention for writing about two women — Victoria Woodhull and Hillary Clinton — whose names surface at both ends of the political spectrum. Woodhull, an American suffragist, was about 100 years before her time when she ran for president of the United States in 1872. Clinton, the wife of former U.S. President Bill Clinton, is a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.
First-place prize at the junior high school level went to seventh-grader Matthew Cole, who also wrote about Clinton, as well as Harriet Tubman, an African-American abolitionist and Union spy during the Civil War.
Evan Silva, a fifth-grader at the Englesby Intermediate School, took his readers into the clouds and garnered first place for his essay on famed pioneer aviator Amelia Earhart and astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman to walk in space. Aimee Levesque, also a fifth-grader at the Englesby, earned an honorable mention for her composition about media mogul and television talk-show host Oprah Winfrey and Anne Sullivan, who is best known for her work with the blind, including Helen Keller.
Patrick Doherty, a fourth-grader at the Campbell School, whose father is a Tewksbury firefighter, received an honorable mention for his essay on Molly Williams and Brenda Berkman. Williams, was an 19th-century slave who went on to become the first known female firefighter in the country. Berkman, a lieutenant with the New York City Fire Department, was one of the first firefighters to respond to the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
First-place winner Laila Anne Cross, a fourth-grader at the Parker Avenue School, also wrote about Winfrey, as well as Elizabeth Blackwell, a Women’s Rights activist in the late 1800s and the first female doctor in the United States.
“These women prove that with hard work and determination, women can do anything,” said Cross, as she read her essay during a small ceremony April 10 at the school administration building.
“Could you please repeat that last line?” asked Superintendent Elaine Espindle. “And if you would, please read it slowly and out loud.”
“These women prove that with hard work and determination, women can do anything,” Cross repeated.