Heineman Middle School student Jackie Fiandaca won both the Fox River Chapter and the Illinois District II levels of a recent Daughters of the American Revolution Essay Contest for her writing, which focused on the historical impact of the Stamp Act.
March 2015 marked the 250th anniversary of the Stamp Act. Passed by the British Parliament in 1765, the tax required all colonists to pay a tax on every printed piece of paper they used. The Stamp Act was viewed by the colonists as “taxation without representation.”
Fiandaca took on the challenge as an extra credit assignment offered by Heineman teacher Mr. Todd Ary. Serendipitously, the contest coincided with a family trip to Washington, D.C., where at the Smithsonian Museum, Fiandaca was able to view several artifacts from the Colonial period.
“She went above and beyond and wrote a great essay,” Ary said.
The contest encouraged students to write about how the Stamp Act affected colonial families. Fiandaca’s essay combines research on the historical context around the passing of the act with an imagining of how colonists would feel in response to it.
“I would imagine that a colonial family might be sitting around their dinner table angrily discussing the Stamp Act. The father would be talking about how upset he is that his hard earned money is being given to the British government. The mother may be upset about how they can not even buy a newspaper without getting taxed. They would talk about how they receive no benefits from this tax,” Fiandaca wrote in the essay. “After a while, their frustrations and anger would turn into retaliations against the British, either peaceful or violent.”
The essay was first picked as the winner by the Fox River Valley Chapter of the DAR and then was submitted to the Illinois District II division, where it also was selected as the top entry.
“When I entered the contest, I did it by just trying to do my very best. The fact that they selected my essay as the winner is an honor,” she said.
The contest suited Fiandaca, who said she enjoys how studying history allows students to make connections between how people from the past lived with their own present-day experiences.
“One of my favorite parts about history is when you are able to connect the past with the present,” Fiandaca said. “Reading and writing about a subject, then being able to see items in person from the past, it makes it very interesting to me.”