SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – March is National Women’s History Month and a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions women have made in the United States, its culture, history, and society. In honor of the contributions extraordinary women have made to pave the way for women today, the South Plainfield Women's Leadership Team will hold is 6th Annual ‘Women’s History Month Essay Contest.’

The topic of this year’s contest, which is open to all ninth through 12th grade students residing in the borough, will focus on the lives of Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan – the three African American women who, while working at NASA, served as the brains behind the launch of astronaut John Glenn into space. Through their achievements, these three women crossed gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big. Their story was the subject of the recent motion picture Hidden Figures.

“History is made every day and women's history many times goes unnoticed or unacknowledged,” said Debbie Boyle, a member of the Women’s Leadership Team Essay Committee. “Giving all students in grades nine through 12 the opportunity to research and write about a female who has played an important role in this country is very important.”

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Each student’s easy should be typed, between 500 and 750 words, and examine the status of these women in the 1950s and 1960s as well as what they endured during their time at NASA; the racial differences they faced; what drove them to succeed and society portrayed them; was society even aware of their work; and what happened to them after their time at NASA. Essay contest participants will also need to explain how they feel Jackson, Johnson, and Vaughan paved the way for women today.

Essays, which will be judged by a committee comprised of Boyle, April Bengivenga, Chrissy Buteas, Pat DeSantis, Nina Rohrer, and Pamela Stefanek, must be received by Monday, May 8.  First, second, and third place winners will be selected and will receive gift cards as well as recognition in the community’s local newspapers. Essays should be send to Nina Rohrer, 106 Puha Road, South Plainfield, NJ 07080/Linarohrer@aol.com; please include name, address, grade, phone number, and email address with all submissions.

"All students are encouraged to participate," said Boyle, adding, "Use your writing abilities and make it count."

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