This was the question answered by thousands of students across the region who participated in the Benjamin Franklin Essay Contest presented by the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, the National Constitution Center, and the "News In Education" program of
The Philadelphia Inquirer. The winning students were honored in a ceremony at the National Constitution Center on Tuesday, April 11, 2006.
From beloved family members to the likes of Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Martin Luther King, Jr., students submitted stories of their modern-day heroes who embody characteristics of Franklin, including his humble beginnings, inventive spirit, scientific knowledge, and philanthropic nature. Out of 2,500 submissions, one winner was chosen in three divisions: elementary school, middle school, and high school. In addition, two runners-up were awarded Honorable Mention. Each first-place winner received a special plaque and free passes for their class to see the blockbuster exhibition Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World at the National Constitution Center. The runners-up also received a plaque and passes for their family to see the exhibition.
The entries were judged by a selection committee from the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, the National Constitution Center and The Philadelphia Inquirer. The winners in each division are as follows:
High School Division:
Modern-day Benjamin Franklin - Oprah Winfrey (PDF)
•Katie Crawford of Holland, PA and Council Rock South High School
Modern-day Benjamin Franklin - Her brother Eric
Middle School Division:
•Michelle Miller Sewell, NJ and Bunker Hill Middle School
Modern-day Benjamin Franklin - Her aunt Libby
•Phoebe Mikalonis of Royersford, PA and Spring Ford Intermediate School
Modern-day Benjamin Franklin - Her teacher, Mrs. Davidheiser
•Irvin Mareno of Ventnor, NJ and Ventnor Educational Complex
Modern-day Benjamin Franklin - Jimmy Carter
Elementary School Division:
•Stephen Robbins of Laurel Hill, NJ and St. Luke's Catholic School
Modern-day Benjamin Franklin - His school principal, Mrs. Dugan
•John Saile of Berwyn, PA and Episcopal Academy
Modern-day Benjamin Franklin - Bill Cosby
•Olivia Hyduk of Malvern, PA and General Wayne Elementary School
Modern-day Benjamin Franklin - Her father, Joseph Hyduk
The Benjamin Franklin Essay Contest was made possible through the generous support
of the John Templeton Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.