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Media Contact: Aileen McQuillen
Facing History and Ourselves Announces Inaugural Harper Lee Memorial Award
Building on success of current student essay contest, new award will single out one essay for outstanding thematic relevance
BOSTON, Mass (March 3, 2016) - Boston-based global education organization Facing History and Ourselves today announced the establishment of the Harper Lee Memorial Award. The award, along with a scholarship of $1,000, will be given to an outstanding entrant in Facing History’s current United States-based student essay contest “Student Voices: To Kill a Mockingbird in Today’s World.”
“Nearly every student in the U.S. reads Mockingbird at some point in middle or high school –and has for decades,” said Facing History's President and CEO Roger Brooks. “In an increasingly divided nation, reading this book is perhaps as close to a common experience as many Americans have. Recognizing an outstanding student essay in memory of Harper Lee is a wonderful way to honor both her memory and that student’s work.”
The underlying themes of Harper Lee’s classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, are just as relevant now as they were more than 50 years ago when the book was published. Facing History has developed a Teaching Mockingbird study guide and professional development courses that offer educators the resources they need to teach the novel through a contemporary lens and help students make connections between history and the world today.
Like other coming-of-age stories, To Kill a Mockingbird invites readers to reflect on our own experiences, examining the forces that have shaped our identities, as well as those of the characters. The 2016 Facing History Essay Contest asks students to explore these conversations about justice, about goodness, about living in a divided society, about making difficult choices, and about the possibilities of social change. Teachers and students can get started by downloading the prompt today.
American novelist Harper Lee died February 19, 2016 at the age of 89.
About Facing History and Ourselves
Facing History and Ourselves was founded in 1976 by educators who believed that instilling intellectual vigor and curiosity goes hand-in-hand with teaching facts and figures. From the disturbing lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides to struggles for civil rights from Birmingham to South Africa, we trust students to wrestle with complex moments in human history, and work to help them understand the range of human behavior. These students learn to connect the dots between the ethical choices they’ll face in life and the positive outcomes they can create in their community and the world. Visit facinghistory.org for more information.