2014 Highlights

The Anne Frank Center USA

The Anne Frank Center USA Katie Wilmore, an 8th grader
at Maumee Valley Country Day School
Winner of the 2014 National Essay Contest

National Essay Contest

Anne Frank was just 13 when her family went into hiding in the Secret Annex to avoid capture by the Nazis. The experience took away nearly everything – from friends to fresh air – but her curiosity and optimism remained, as evidenced in her now famous diary. During the two years she spent in hiding, Anne used writing to reflect on the world around her, stressing the need not only for tolerance and peace, but for individuals brave enough to work toward these things.

The Center believes, as Anne did, that children matter and can make a positive difference. As a reflection of this, on October 20, 2014, in honor of The National Day on Writing, we sponsored our first annual essay contest for middle school students, to inspire young people to think about the consequences of intolerance, racism, and discrimination, as well as ways the next generation can build a world based on mutual respect.

We were flooded with submissions from around the country – nearly 500 of them in all. The winner, Katie Wilmore, an 8th grader at Maumee Valley Country Day School in Toledo, Ohio, won for her essay entitled, “Soar,” selected for its honesty, optimism, and poise – three traits that Anne Frank herself epitomized. As she writes in the essay:

“Anne Frank once wrote in her diary, ‘I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.’ When I first read this, it confused me...Doesn’t she know that millions are being slaughtered for simply being themselves?...Eventually I realized she did probably know these things, and was openly refusing to give up on people. She knew that even behind the most shortsighted of eyes was a mind reaching out, struggling to understand the world around it.”

Ms. Wilmore – who in her own words has never traveled “farther than Florida” – was thrilled by the news. “Anne Frank was a girl I head heard a lot about but never really bothered to read about. I am so glad that I participated in this contest because I got to know her incredible story and now get the chance to explore the place where she once lived. This award is a wish come true.”

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