Tuesday, September 18, 2018


The Boston Globe

 September 17, 2018

 Jeff Jacoby

            In praise of The Concord Review

For years, Will Fitzhugh has deplored the fact that talented high school scholars get so much less recognition than talented high school athletes. Many newspapers publish lavish “all-scholastic ” special sections celebrating the achievements of young track, softball, and soccer stars, but there are no four-color inserts extolling high-school students who excel at academics. At colleges all over America, athletic coaches keep tabs on the most promising up-and-coming high school basketball, baseball, and football players. But is there a History Department chairman on any campus in the United States who could name the most gifted history student at any high school within a 500-mile radius?
Thirty years ago, Fitzhugh—a one-time history teacher in Concord, Massachusetts—set out to change this imbalance. I wrote about his efforts in a column last year:

Fitzhugh decided to blaze a path. He quit his job, cashed in his pension, and devoted himself full-time to producing a journal that would show what kind of scholarly writing kids were capable of. He adopted “Varsity Academics®” as his slogan and put out a call for excellent history essays. The journal’s purpose, he says, was to serve as a new kind of peer pressure: to demonstrate to high school students everywhere what kids like them could produce.

As word of The Concord Review trickled out, the superb history papers began flowing in. So did tributes from supporters as varied as Albert Shanker, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., John Silber, and David McCullough. So did modest financial support from a handful of donors who grasped the potential of what Fitzhugh was doing.

But it has always been a hand-to-mouth existence. Fitzhugh never saw anything like the tens of millions of dollars that are poured into after-the-fact remedial writing instruction and into gimmicky feel-good campaigns by foundations more interested in boosting self-esteem than in challenging students to work hard. Over and over, Fitzhugh’s grant applications have been rejected on the grounds that his journal is too elitist, or that it doesn’t have a politically correct edge, or that the study of history isn’t, after all, nearly as important as he seems to think it is. A few high schools have embraced The Concord Review. But far more want nothing to do with a journal so committed to high academic standards.

Through it all, Fitzhugh persists, cheerful and determined—and passionate as ever about student achievement. It remains the case that most high school students are never required to write a serious research paper. But now there are 30 years’ worth of Concord Reviews that open a window into an alternative universe. You want to see what high school kids can do? Spend some time with The Concord Review, and prepare to be inspired.

The papers published in The Concord Review bear no resemblance to the five-paragraph “essay” that millions of high-school students have been misled into thinking constitutes serious writing. The history essays Fitzhugh accepts for publication are typically in the 5,000-8,000 word range. But there is no word limit, and at least one essay (on the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre in Utah) ran to more than 20,000 words.

Nor is there any subject requirement. Students are invited to submit papers on any historical topic at all, and the range of subjects they have tackled is vast. The most recent issue includes essays on the Treaty of Lausanne, the Northern Wei Dynasty, the Election of 1916, the Trans-Siberian Railroad, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, and the Irish liberator Daniel O’Connell. The only thing the essays have in common, besides their brilliance, is that they were all written by high school students.

The Concord Review
isn’t splashy, and neither is its founder and editor. But what Fitzhugh lacks in razzle-dazzle and snappy jokes, he more than makes up for in charisma, good spirits, commitment, and a lifelong pursuit of excellence. A brief new video [https-//www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5MTYErq4y4] highlighting his one-man crusade is being promoted online by the Pioneer Institute, one of Boston’s leading think tanks. Take seven minutes to watch it, and you’ll be reassured that even in our era of dumbed-down, short-attention-span, lowest-common-denominator education, all is not yet lost.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018


EducationViews.org; Houston, Texas

Video Highlights Long-Running Journal that Publishes History Essays by High School Students

September 11, 2018 by
Pioneer Institute


Try watching this video on www.youtube.com, or enable JavaScript if it is disabled in your browser.

BOSTON – A new video highlights the work of Will Fitzhugh, who for years has operated The Concord Review, a journal that publishes history essays by secondary students from across the country and around the globe

“Will Fitzhugh has dedicated his career to disseminating the superb work of high school students to their peers and the world,” said Jamie Gass, who directs Pioneer Institute’s Center for School Reform and is also a member of The Concord Review board. “His goal is to inspire as many students as possible by putting excellent history writing in front of them.”

In well over 100 issues since 1987, the Review has thus far published nearly 1,300 essays by students from 45 states and 40 foreign countries. There are no length or subject requirements beyond the history focus, which maximizes students’ freedom to pursue their interests.

Fitzhugh asks his student authors to let him know where they will be attending college. Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and Princeton are the most common destinations.

The Concord Review
has attracted a number of high-profile supporters, including the late American Federation of Teachers President Albert Shanker, who wrote two columns about it in The New York Times after reading an early issue of the journal. Historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. said The Concord Review “should be in every high school in the land.” 

Other Concord Review boosters include Pulitzer-Prize winning historian David McCullough, education historian Diane Ravitch, and Jay Mathews of The Washington Post.

Earlier this year, Fitzhugh co-authored a review of Massachusetts’ new K-12 academic standards in U.S. History. In June, Pioneer Institute published the results of a poll showing strong support among legislators, parents, and teachers for reinstating a state requirement that students pass a U.S. History MCAS test to graduate from high school. 


About Pioneer—Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.

Monday, September 3, 2018


Dong Hyun Kang
Republic of Korea

27 August 2018

Will Fitzhugh
The Concord Review
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776 USA

Dear Mr. Fitzhugh,

This is Dong Hyun Kang, who received an Emerson Prize for the history paper, “Creation of Hangul” a few months back.

It is really my honor and pleasure to get such a positive evaluation from a highly respected institution like yours. 

I would like to inform you that I have received your check for $1,000 as well. After thinking about how I should spend the money, I have ultimately decided to donate it to The Concord Review.

While I fully understand that you have intended the money to be used for my purpose, I would like to contribute to helping inspire other high school historians to academic excellence, which is the very goal of The Concord Review.

My experience of writing “Creation of Hangul” by itself has been very rewarding, for it has allowed me to attain a new level of sophisticated thinking regrading critical analysis and synthesis of historical events and phenomena.

Once again, I cannot express my gratitude enough for the uniquely high distinction you have accorded me.


Dong Hyun Kang
[Seoul International School, Class of 2018
Oxford University, 2021]