By WRILEY NELSON
The 146th Ruggles Essay Competition was held at Cooperstown Central School on April 14. Like their predecessors for a century and a half, each member of the junior class wrote a 600-800 word essay. The written works are judged for originality, grammar and vivid language use. Each English class sends finalists to the all-school competition after a preliminary oral performance. First- and second-place winners are selected by a committee of teachers, community members and former victors after a second round of judging based on oratory in front of the entire school.
The 2023 winners, Peter C. Lofrumento and Coralise Bailey, sat down with 2022 champions Malachi Sciallo and Annie Walker to discuss the competition. Lofrumento’s first-place essay covered his family’s post-pandemic return to their traditional annual Maine camping trips in 2021. He said that he had had only three days to turn out a paper after receiving the assignment. Bailey described her entry as an extended “meditation on being a nerd,” including an anecdote about staying up all night to watch a meteor shower.
Sciallo reflected on his own essay, a comedic take on his tongue-tie surgery. He said that he intensively practiced his delivery before the final presentation. Sciallo will attend SUNY Oneonta as a music industry major. Walker wrote a collection of stories about her childhood adventures with a favorite doll. She will start at Cornell in the fall and intends to study history.
All four students agreed that adapting their essays for public performance was the easier part of the process. Walker said that most of her writing is “written to be spoken,” and each of the students expressed their agreement.
William H. Ruggles died in 1874, with his obituary running in “The Freeman’s Journal.” He was a lifelong pillar of the Cooperstown school as a teacher, trustee and board member. The first recorded Ruggles Memorial contest took place in 1877.