Woodrow Wilson Forum
The 2011 Woodrow Wilson Forum was held on Wednesday, March 16, at the Student Festival Conference Center at James Madison University in Harrisonburg. At the forum, entitled "Presidential Couples: Power and Influence in the White House," 106 Advanced Placement students from six area high schools discussed the role of the First Lady through paper presentations and panel discussions. Awards were given for the two best papers. Prior to the student panel, nationally known author and biographer Kristie Miller kicked off the forum with a keynote address entitled "The Use and Abuse of the First Lady's Power."
Students from six high schools participated in the forum, including Grace Christian School in Staunton; Buffalo Gap, Fort Defiance, and Riverheads High Schools in Augusta County; Rockbridge County High School in Lexington; and East Rockingham High School in Harrisonburg. Ms. Miller's keynote address started the event. She was followed by Dr. Anthony Eksterowicz, Professor Emeritus at James Madison University, who discussed the "State of First Lady Studies." Seven students then presented their research papers, and participated in a question-and-answer session. After lunch, the students divided into small groups for roundtable discussions of various topics about First Ladies. The discussions were then summarized, with an intriquing conversation on the role of a potential First Gentleman.
Joel Hodson, Director of Education at the WWPL, said, "Inspired by the legacy of Woodrow Wilson, we believe that inviting advanced high school students to discuss matters of national importance contributes to our nation's civic health. This year, the students engaged the increasingly important topic of the influence of the First Lady in American politics and national life. We were also pleased to bring the students to James Madison University campus for a day."
Kristie Miller is the author of several award-winning biographies about women in politics in the first half of the 20th century. She served for twenty years as director of the Chicago Tribune Company and taught school for fifteen years on four continents. She is currently a Research Associate at the University of Arizona and lives in Washington, D.C. Her most recent book is Ellen and Edith: Woodrow Wilson's First Ladies, a dual biography that sheds new light on these influential women.
Joscelyn Seaton, from Grace Christian School, and Lauren Sheridan, from Buffalo Gap High School, each won a $125 scholarship for their papers. Miss Seaton wrote on "The Mothers of this Nation" and Miss Sheridan wrote on "First Lady Edith Wilson." James Madison University's School of Public and International Affairs contributed the scholarship awards.
The Woodrow Wilson Student Forum has been held every other year since 1990. The program is made possible through the generous support of the Frank R. Pancake Education Endowment. Those interested in more information about the forum should contact Susan Lendermon, Assistant TAH Project Director at the WWPL, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at (540) 885-0897, ext. 108.
See below for papers from 2011 Forum participants.
"The Mothers of this Nation" - Grace Christian School
"First Lady Edith Wilson" - Buffalo Gap High School
"Lou Hoover" - East Rockingham High School
"Pat Nixon, an Enigma of Goodwill" - Rockbridge High School
"Defining the Role of First Lady: A Look through the Eyes of Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush" - Buffalo Gap High School
"Michelle Obama and the Role of the First Lady" - East Rockingham High School
"The Impossible Comparison" - Fort Defiance High School