SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Back in March, the South Plainfield Women's Leadership Team announced its annual ‘Women’s History Month Essay Contest’ and, during the borough council’s Nov. 20 meeting, this year’s winners were announced.

Gregory Forbes, the first male to win the contest since its inception, earned first place with Jaylin Mitchell and Alexandria Frontz garnering second and third place honors, respectively. All three winners were members of South Plainfield High School’s Class of 2017.

“This was our seventh year and the committee hopes to keep this essay contest going,” said Women's Leadership Team member Nina Rohrer.

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Held in conjunction with March being National Women’s History Month, the goal of the essay contest is to recognize and celebrate the contributions women have made in the United States, its culture, history, and society. For 2017, essays had to center around the lives of Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan – the three African American women who, while employed at NASA, served as the brains behind the launch of astronaut John Glenn into space; most recently their lives were highlighted in the motion picture Hidden Figures.

Essays needed to focus on their lives during the 1950s and 1960s as well as include information on what they endured during their time at NASA; the racial differences they faced; what drove them to succeed; how society portrayed them; and how Jackson, Johnson, and Vaughan paved the way for women today.

"The students must show the research that they did and give details about the people or the persons they’re writing about. The essays have to accentuate their thoughts and feelings..." said Debbie Boyle, a member of the Women's Leadership Team.

In selecting first, second and third place winners, team member read  each entry and share their thughts and opinions. This year, 10 entries were received with Mitchell taking home home a $100 prize for her essay entitled ‘Unspoken Intentions’ and Frontz earning a $50 prize for her essay ‘Shown in the Light.’

Jaylin also showed compassion and interest in the subject. Her writing style made the essay very interesting to read [and] she had very good facts in her essay,” said Rohrer, adding, “Alexandria’s essay was also very good and very well written. Her writing style made the essay interesting to read because it sort of brought you back into history of the 1960s.” 

For his first place essay, entitled Women Forgotten,’ Forbes received a $200 award. “Gregory’s essay was very well written with compassion and interest in the subject of the three NASA female employees,” said Rohrer. “He did good research and included information that no one else included. It was informative and an easy read.”

"I think it’s wonderful that our students participate in this essay contest and show their expression through their writing," said Boyle.

Rohrer agreed. "It is great for the students to get recognition in writing by entering into contests like this and also for our students to recognize women who have in some way made an impact in the world, our country, our state or in our own community," she said.

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