Past Winners

2015-2016 Essay Contest

The quotation for the 2015-2016 contest was, from Walden, “Who shall say what prospect life offers to another? Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?”  Contestants were asked to thoughtfully convey a time when they either experienced or witnessed the type of “miracle” that Thoreau describes.

Traditional Essay Contest

13-14 Age Group:
Winner, Penelope Sanchez (San Diego, California)

15-16 Age Group:
Winner, Richa Gupta (Bangalore, Karnataka, INDIA)
Honorable Mention, Raven Davis-Bailey (Hiram, Maine)

17-18 Age Group:
Winner, Emyli Bassett-Humble (Machesney Park, Illinois)
Honorable Mention, Anita Onyimah (Acworth, Georgia)
Honorable Mention, Tracy Robinson (Fort White, Florida)

19-21 Age Group:
Winner, Abdullateef Abdul (Ajah, Lagos, NIGERIA)

Visual Essay Contest

Combined Age Group:
Winner, Tyler Thomas (Marshall, Texas)

_Cooler and Jeans_ by Oscar Palacio

2014-2015 Essay Contest

The quotation for the 2014-2015 contest was, from Thoreau's Journal, "Many an object is not seen, though it falls within our visual ray, because it does not come within the range of our intellectual ray, i.e., we are not looking for it. So, in the largest sense, we find only the world we look for." Contestants were asked to discuss the meaning of the quotation, while integrating the image to the right (which was part of the Walden, revisited exhibition at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum), their own experiences and observations of the world.


13-14 Age Group:
Winner, Emily Redmond (State College, Pennsylvania)

15-16 Age Group:
Winner, Eva Sombrowski (Fernie, BC, CANADA)
Honorable Mention, Keiley James (Atlanta, Georgia)

17-18 Age Group:
Winner, Darin Chaichitatorn (Mundelein, Illinois)
Honorable Mention, Caroline Cobb (Falmouth, Massachusetts)

19-21 Age Group:
Winner, Laura George (Athens, Georgia)

2013-2014 Essay Contest

The quotation for the 2013-2014 contest was, from Walden, “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor.” Students were then asked to share how do they make differences of their own and by what conscious endeavors they do so.


13-15 Age Group:
Winner, HyunGu Kang (Toronto, Ontario, CANADA)
Honorable Mention, Talia Ruxin (Lexington, Massachusetts)

16-17 Age Group:
Winner, Maya St. Clair (Mundelein, Illinois)
Honorable Mention, Tennant Ross (Marietta, Georgia)

18-21 Age Group:
Winner, Timothy Turner (Lumberton, Texas)
Honorable Mention, Alexander Babey (West Hartford, Connecticut)
Honorable Mention, Jacob Diaz (Mundelein, Illinois)

2011-2012 Essay Contest

The 2012 essay contest asked students to respond to this quote from Thoreau's Walden:"The millions are awake enough for physical labor; but only one in a million is awake enough for effective intellectual exertion, only one in a hundred millions to a poetic or divine life. To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake."


Jesus Padilla (Sherman Oaks, California)

2010-2011 Essay Contest

The 2011 essay contest asked students to respond to this quote from Thoreau's Walden:"In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness."


13-15 Age Group:
Winner, Minna Wang (Layton, Utah)

16-18 Age Group:
Winner, Veronica L. Alvarado (Hempstead, New York)
EDCO Greater Boston Winner, Jackie Roche (Hingham, Massachusetts)
EDCO Massachusetts Winner, Kathleen Costello (Dedham, Massachusetts)

19-21 Age Group:
Winner, Anne Wu (Ithaca, New York)

2009-2010 Essay Contest

The 2010 essay contest asked students to respond to Thoreau's famous call to live deliberately, from Walden: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

Elizabeth Hull (East Machias, Maine)
Cameron Shorb (Sudbury, Massachusetts)
Rhea E. Fowler (Boston, Massachusetts)