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Student Wins Coolidge Award

Plymouth, Vt. — A Weathersfield girl was awarded a $1,500 prize by the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation for her essay on the nation’s 30th president.

Abigail Millard was named winner of The Calvin Prize for Youth, awarded to a Vermont writer 19 years of age or younger.

Millard, 16, of Perkinsville, is a junior at Windsor High School. She was honored Nov. 12 in New York City.

Also honored in New York was Holman W. Jenkins Jr., a columnist and editorial board member at the Wall Street Journal, who won the Coolidge Prize for Journalism and a $20,000 prize. It honors a writer who best captured the spirit and style of President Coolidge and his ideals.

Millard’s entry was one of more than 40 received by the Plymouth-based foundation.

Her essay, titled “Coffee with the President: Calvin Coolidge and America Today,” explored how Coolidge’s well-known stances on various issues might play out with some of the issues facing the U.S. now.

Millard said Coolidge was a fiscal conservative. “He was president for six years and all six years he balanced the budget, so he believed very much in controlling spending,” Millard said. “I would say he would not be very happy with the financial state of the government today.”

And on foreign affairs, Millard said Coolidge issued warnings to step into foreign affairs carefully and only after considering the possible consequences of each action.

“It would have to be taken on a case-by-case basis of each particular conflict,” Millard said about the recent string of military conflicts the U.S. has been involved in.

Millard, who traveled with her father to the awards banquet, said it was her first trip to New York City. They were able to get in a little sightseeing, including visiting Central Park.

“It was a really great experience,” she said. “I really enjoyed the dinner. I learned a lot more about Calvin Coolidge than I already knew.”

Millard said one of the highlights of the dinner was sitting next to Charles Johnson, an author and historian who wrote Why Coolidge Matters: Leadership Lessons from America’s Most Underrated President. Millard said he asked about her writing, education and interests. “He encouraged me to keep writing and told me of some of his experiences of his writing and prizes he won when he was in high school.”

Millard said the essay came about as a result of a recommendation by her history teacher, who suggested to students that they consider entering the competition.

“I love to write and I am particularly interested in Calvin Coolidge because it goes along with local history, and he was from Vermont,” Millard said.

Entries, which were limited to 1,000 words, were judged based on their “representation and articulation of the values important to Calvin Coolidge, including: independence, thrift, states’ rights, a restrained federal government, perseverance after hardship, competence at work, and respect for religious faith.” The awards dinner featured Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, and Larry Kudlow of CNBC.

Also during the banquet, the foundation announced it will soon be led by a new executive director, Matthew Denhart, who will be on board in Vermont in early December. Denhart, who graduated from Ohio University, has been a research fellow at the George W. Bush Institute’s 4 Percent Growth Project.