Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Best HS Writing Samples

The Report Card Commentary–William Korach
The Concord Review Publishes the Best High School Writing in America
Posted on 14 May 2013

Tags: curriculum reform, educational standards, political correctness, The Concord Review, Will Fitzhugh

(Editor: My friend Will Fitzhugh, Publisher of The Concord Review, and a frequent contributor to The Report Card www.thereportcard.org publishes what is arguably the best high school student writing in the country. The students some of whom attend public schools and others who attend elite private schools have gone on to Oxford, Harvard, Yale, The University of Chicago and other great universities. Colin Rhys-Hill said that the tutors at Christ Church College, Oxford were more interested in his paper than anything else he did in high school. Does your school encourage students to submit to The Concord Review? How good is good at your school? Great writing is a skill that commands recognition and respect. If your school in not teaching rigorous writing, why not? Does your school offer learning or excuses? Sorry, but excuses walk. This is still America, and if you want success in America, learn how to write with clarity and force. Businesses claim they need to spend $3 Billion per year teaching graduates how to read and write. So sorry, but that’s pathetic. The Concord Review demonstrates great writing by high school students of history. Here Will Fitzhugh provides some excerpts. If you want to see more, his website is at www.tcr.org).

Since The Concord Review was founded in 1987, we have published 1,066 exemplary history research papers by high school students from 46 states and 38 other countries. Thirty percent of our authors have gone on to Harvard, Princeton, Stanford or Yale. Endnote numbers omitted. Will Fitzhugh


Jessica Leight went to Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School, then graduated summa cum laude from Yale. She was asked about her essay in The Concord Review during her interview for the Rhodes Scholarship, and after three years at Oxford on the Rhodes, she got a Ph.D. in Economics from MIT. Her paper was on Anne Hutchinson:

“….This bitter speech, made by a man who had seen his entire career threatened by the woman now standing before him, opened a trial marked by extraordinary vindictiveness on the part of the men presiding. Why? Because their regulatory power had been, up to this point, thwarted. Hutchinson had done nothing in public, nothing that could be clearly seen and defined, nothing that could be clearly punished. The principal accusation leveled against her was failure to show proper respect to the ministers, but again, she had made no public speeches or declarations, and the court would soon find that producing evidence of her insolence was very difficult.

The assembly did not immediately strike to the heart of the matter: Hutchinson’s disparagement of the ministers of the colony as under a covenant of works. Instead, the presiding ministers first accused her of disobeying the commandment to obey one’s father and one’s mother by not submitting to the “fathers of the commonwealth,”as Winthrop termed it. Next, Hutchinson’s meetings were condemned, despite her citation of a rule in Titus exhorting the elder women to teach the younger. In the debate of these points, Hutchinson’s scintillating wit showed itself to best advantage; eventually, Dudley jumped in to rescue Winthrop, who was undoubtedly getting the worst of the argument, and quite simply accused Hutchinson of fomenting all discontent in the colony by deprecating the ministers as under a covenant of works. It was stated that she had aired these unacceptable views at the conference held at Cotton’s house the previous December…

Hutchinson immediately bridled at this use of private remarks as evidence and argued that she had spoken in good faith, believing the ministers were genuinely interested in her opinion and her guidance…”


Colin Rhys Hill graduated from Atlanta International School with the IB Diploma. He then applied to Christ Church College, Oxford, and during his acceptance interview there, the tutors were more interested in his paper that was in The Concord Review than in any of his other activities. His 15,000-word paper was on the Soviet-Afghan War.

“….Approximately nine years later on February 5th, 1989, Boris Gromov (the commander of the 40th Army and the last Soviet soldier in Afghanistan) would cross the Friendship Bridge at Termez into Uzbekistan. One of his sons was waiting for him at the other end with a bouquet of flowers. In Islamabad, Pakistan, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Station Chief Milton Bearden sent a two-word cable to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia: “WE WON.” Bearden’s celebration was echoed in the headquarters of intelligence agencies from Singapore to France. The Soviet Army, which had not lost a war since the Soviet-Polish war of 1919-1921, had been brought to its knees by decentralized groups of Afghani guerrillas who collectively called themselves ‘The Mujahideen’ (The Holy Warriors).

It had been a bloody decade. The official number of 40th Army troops killed in action (KIA) was 13,833; but revised casualty figures reveal that the actual number was “in the vicinity of 26,000 (KIA).” 49,985 Soviet troops were wounded in action (WIA). Conversely, more than 1.3 million Mujahideen and Afghani civilians were killed by the 40th Army and DRA forces. The war forced 5.5 million Afghani civilians, almost a third of the pre-war population of Afghanistan, to flee the country as refugees. An additional two million Afghan civilians became internally displaced persons (IDPs). The textbook Soviet intervention that had crushed the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and Czechoslovakia’s “Prague Spring” of 1968 failed miserably in Afghanistan. Soon, the once mighty Soviet Union itself would disintegrate.” 


Daniel Winik went to Sidwell Friends School and then to Yale. This paper was on American Almanacs.

“…The almanac (from the Arabic word for “a timetable of the skies”) has a distinguished history in America, but it was not original to the continent. The genre began in 13th century England with the Book of Hours, a calendar of Christian holy days. Almanacs came to the New World in 1639, when William Pierce published his Almanack Calculated for New England. Pierce’s almanac was only the second imprint of the sole printing press in America, founded in 1638 by a group of Boston publishers.

Between 1639 and 1675, Harvard University tutors published America’s only almanacs from this press. These Philomath (Greek for “lover of mathematics”) almanacs included astronomical data, poetry, and assorted municipal information. Most contained sixteen pages—a cover, introduction, twelve calendar months with astronomical charts, and two miscellaneous pages that often included an astronomical essay. By the early 1700s, almanacs had spread from Boston to New York and Philadelphia. During the eighteenth century—what Robert K. Dodge calls “the time of glory for the American almanac”—volumes and printing runs expanded.

The popular appeal of almanacs also ballooned. Rob Sagendorph notes that Nathanial Ames’s Astronomical Diary and Almanack, first published in 1726, was the first almanac to become an household necessity alongside the Bible.” This trend of popularity continued in 1733 with Benjamin Franklin’s first publication of Poor Richard’s Almanack under the pseudonym of Richard Saunders…”


Rachel Davidson went to Newton North High School, then studied civil engineering at Princeton and got a Ph.D. in earthquake engineering at Stanford. She is now an associate professor of engineering. This is from her paper on the split in the Woman Suffrage movement in the middle of the nineteenth century.

“…As is usually the case in extended, deeply-held disagreements, no one person or group was the cause of the split in the woman suffrage movement. On both sides, a stubborn eagerness to enfranchise women hindered the effort to do so. Abolitionists and Republicans refused to unite equally with woman suffragists. Stanton and Anthony, blinded for a while by their desperation to succeed, turned to racism, pitting blacks and women against each other at a time when each needed the other’s support most. The one thing that remains clear is that, while in some ways it helped women discover their own power, the division of forces weakened the overall strength of the movement. As a result of the disagreements within the woman suffrage movement, the 1860s turned out to be a missed opportunity for woman suffragists, just as Stanton had predicted. After the passage of the 15th Amendment, they were forced to wait another 50 years for the fulfillment of their dream….”

“Teach by Example”
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review [1987]
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes [1995]
National Writing Board [1998]
TCR Institute [2002]
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
978-443-0022; 800-331-5007
www.tcr.org; fitzhugh@tcr.org
Varsity Academics®