2017 Calvin Prize for Vermont Youth

January 4, 2017


2017 Writing Contest

Could Coolidge Win Today?

We made the mistake of talking too much about the deficiencies of our opponents and not enough about the merits of our own candidates. I have never again fallen into that error.
 – Calvin Coolidge on an early campaign

We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once. – Calvin Coolidge

The 2016 presidential campaign highlighted deep divisions in the United States. A recent report from the Pew Research Center finds that Republicans and Democrats now have more negative views of the opposing party than at any point since the organization starting surveying Americans on this subject in 1992. Of course disagreements between political parties are nothing new, and differences tend to be highlighted during presidential campaigns. Even so, many sense a breakdown in civility, with the Pew Center report suggesting political differences have an increasingly personal element to them.

But there is a president who, to this day, continues to be applauded for his record of civility and for his ability to work across the aisle. That president is Vermont’s own Calvin Coolidge, who served as America’s thirtieth president from 1923 to 1929. Coolidge eschewed ad hominem attacks. Even when campaigning he thought it more important to tell voters about the merits of his own candidacy rather than smear his opponents. Coolidge was able to accomplish much in office, often working with members of the opposing political party.

Yet much has changed from the 1920s. After all, in Coolidge’s day, radio was just emerging as the main form of mass media. Today the 24-hour news cycle and social media dominate. Furthermore, presidential campaigns were much shorter in Coolidge’s day and the candidates themselves did not engage in nearly the level of direct campaigning that they do now.

President Calvin Coolidge was known for his civility and his ability to work across the aisle. Do you think Coolidge could win the presidency today? What lessons from President Coolidge might help heal our political divisions? What can you do in your own life to encourage civility in America’s political dialogue while still advocating for the things in which you believe? Please prepare a written submission of 800 words or fewer that addresses these questions.      

About the Calvin Prize for Vermont Youth

The Calvin Prize for Vermont Youth is a prize named after President Calvin Coolidge and his son, Calvin Coolidge Jr. It is for writers ages 13 to 19 currently living or attending school in the state of Vermont. The first-place prize of $1,500 and the runner-up prize of $500 are awarded for the article, essay, or poem under 800 words that best answers the prompt of this year’s prize. The winners will be invited to attend and be honored at the Coolidge Foundation’s annual summer gala in Plymouth Notch, Vt. on July 1, 2017. The Coolidge Foundation is grateful to the Young Writers Project for its partnership in the Calvin Prize contest.

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  1. Deadline to submit: May 19, 2017
  2. To be eligible to compete, the contestant must be a current resident of the state of Vermont or attend school in Vermont.
  3. Contestants must be between 13 and 19 years old on May 19, 2017.
  4. Writing submissions must contain fewer than 800 words.
  5. Writing submissions may be an essay previously submitted as a school assignment or a new writing submission altogether. The submitting author may have a teacher or mentor provide feedback on a draft, but the submission must reflect the author’s own original thinking and writing.

Calvin Prize Submission

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By checking this box I confirm I have read, understand and agree to abide by the rules related to the Calvin Prize for Vermont Youth. The submitted writing is my own original work.

Coolidge Blog

Register to Judge Debate

Volunteering as a judge is a very meaningful way to get involved in our debate program. Judges play a critical role in helping to teach our students. Even if you have never judged before, you are very welcome in our program. We have a judge trainer who will give you all the tools you need, and indeed we find novice judges are often the best.

How One Coolidge Speech Inspired a New School

Justin Rule is an American educator, and like countless other educators, he works diligently every day to develop the minds of our nation’s young people. Yet in a recent interview with News from the Notch, Mr. Rule explained he hasn’t just worked in ordinary public or private school settings. He has worked with difficult cases, teen students struggling with serious disciplinary and/or criminal issues. His valiant efforts with these challenging young people frequently got his students to graduation day, but that often did not mean those students were set on a trajectory of future success. Mr. Rule expressed regret, saying he has attended far too many funerals of former students trapped in a cycle of poverty, violence, drugs, or alcohol.

Coolidge Cup Online Debate Tournament

Students interested in competing in the online tournament should record a five-minute video of either an opening affirmative or negative statement for the resolution: “A significant tariff on imported goods from Mexico is a good policy for the U.S. economy.” Students should upload their video to YouTube, then fill out the online submission form on this page.

Black History Month with President Coolidge

On September 24, 2016, America’s first African American president, Barack Obama, presided over the ceremony to inaugurate the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. This living monument to America’s black heritage was many decades in the making, and in some respects the effort can be traced back to President Calvin Coolidge. On his final day in office, March 4, 1929, President Coolidge signed Public Resolution 107 which initiated a commission to design and construct a national monument to the Negro that would stand as a “tribute to the Negro’s contributions to the achievements of America.”