New Knights of Columbus Essay Contests

Samuel Radcliffe was the tenth-grade essay contest first-place winner on patriotism, and Aidan Mora-Monge was the ninth-grade first-place essay contest winner on Christianity… but everyone in attendance won the evening of June 7 at an awards ceremony and reception honoring the student-winners of the Saints Peter and Paul High School essay contest sponsored by the Regina Coeli Council of the Knights of Columbus.

Attending the New Knights of Columbus Essay Contest Ceremony was Reagan Handy, Dylan Werner, Aidan Mora-Monge, Mark de Bernardo, Father James Nash, Samuel Radcliffe, Kathryn Murphy, and Lucy Olavsrud.

The evening belonged to the deserving students and their proud families. All ninth and tenth graders participated in the essay contests. The SSPP High School faculty graded the essays and provided the top seven in each category to a three-judge panel of Knights which included Colonel Bernie Liswell, Washington College Professor Joseph Prud’Homme, and lawyer and author Mark de Bernardo. The judges picked the first-, second-, and third-place winners in each category, each of whom received a scholarship and other awards.

The ninth-grade winners are: First – Aidan Mora-Monge; Second – Dylan Werner; and Third – Reagan Handy.

The ninth graders wrote 400- to 500-word essays on Christ’s command that we love one another, and how this translates to charity in our own community.

The tenth-grade winners are: First – Samuel Radcliffe; Second – Kathryn Murphy; and Third – Lucy Olavsrud.

The tenth-graders also wrote 400-500-word essays, but on patriotism tied to Memorial Day: “Discuss one day in American history when members of our military paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country and to preserve our way of life. What does it mean to you?”

Samuel wrote about George Washington and the Continental Army escaping by boat to Manhattan from being trapped on Long Island, and thereby escaping a disaster that could have ended the Revolutionary War, due in large part to the rearguard efforts of the First Maryland Regiment, also known as “the Maryland 400.”

Samuel wrote: “The Maryland 400 brought up the rear and, outnumbered and on the verge of disaster, did the unthinkable… they charged the British six times, losing large amounts of men with each attack, then regrouping and hurling themselves at the British again. More than 250 of the Maryland soldiers were killed in their desperate attacks, and George Washington was brought to tears and heard saying, ‘Good God! What brave fellows I must lose this day!’”

Well-done, Samuel.

Samuel Radcliffe poses with his mother, Melissa Radcliffe. Samuel is the first-place winner in the 10th-grade patriotism essay contest. The judges gave his essay the highest marks of the entire contest (every 9th- and 10th-grade student entered).

The first-place winners received engraved plaques, and the second- and third-place winners received citations from SSPP High School. All six winners received a beautiful formal Certificate of Achievement from the State of Maryland courtesy of State Senator Johnny Mautz (who is a member of the Regina Coeli Council of the Knights of Columbus).

Most significantly, each of the six student-winners received scholarship checks. Thanks goes to those who generously funded the scholarships:

Bill and Arlene Kennedy

Nate Whitaker (and his home-improvement company Precision Exteriors)

Bob and Bitsy Orme

Eric and E Dee Monnen

Mark and Jennifer de Bernardo

Father James Nash who was instrumental in his support and encouragement for this project, like so many others.

Finally, congratulations to the parents and families of the six student-winners who proudly share in their success, participated in the awards ceremony/reception, are committed to the Catholic education of Saints Peter and Paul, and – as confirmed by these essays on Christianity and Patriotism – are doing a wonderful job of raising their children. We are all winners.

To comment on this project, and/or consider helping fund student scholarships for possible future essay and oratorical (for 11th and 12th graders) contests, or to inquire about joining the Knights of Columbus, contact Mark de Bernardo at

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