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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 17, 2005

First Lady Patti Blagojevich hosts luncheon at Executive Mansion recognizing winners of C-SPAN and Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum essay contest
First Lady welcomes the ten winners to Illinois for the opening of the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

SPRINGFIELD – First Lady Patti Blagojevich today held a luncheon at the Executive Mansion to congratulate the winners of the C-SPAN and Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum essay contest. The First Lady welcomed these ten talented young people from across the country to Springfield as they participate in the “Looking for Lincoln” Tour of Central Illinois. The students were also given a private tour of the Executive Mansion following the luncheon.
 
“The essays written by these students carry messages of hope, freedom, and equality,” said Mrs. Blagojevich. “Their empowering words inspire us all to remember the greatness of the country in which we live, and remind us of how the words and views of one person alone can affect a nation. I cannot think of a better way to recognize these students than have them share in the opening of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, a place dedicated to the man whose inspiring words helped shape the nation we live in today.”
 
The ten students were the winners among 5,400 entries from all 50 states and the District of Columbia submitted for “Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address:  An Essay Contest for Middle and High School Students.” The Contest challenged the students to craft their own thoughts about a “new birth of freedom” in an essay not exceeding 272 words, the length of President Lincoln’s November 19, 1863 Gettysburg Address.  This is the largest number of entries ever submitted for a C-SPAN essay contest.
 
The Grand Prize winner is Mihan Lee, an 11th grade student at Georgetown Day School in Potomac, Maryland.  Her essay is entitled “A New Country, A New Century, A New Freedom,” and she will read this essay during the April 19 dedication ceremony for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. Mihan will receive $1,500 in cash, while the nine first prize winners will each receive $750 in cash.
 
            The nine first prize winners include:
 
Mary Bax
12th grade, Parkway West Senior High, Ballwin, Missouri
“The Journey Home”
 
 Brett Brown
11th grade, Kapaun Mount Carmel, Wichita, Kansas
“America and Freedom”
 
Lauren Cairco
12th grade, Fort Mill High School, Fort Mill, South Carolina
“A New Birth of Freedom”
 
Julia Ishiyama
8th grade, Castilleja School, Palo Alto, California
“A Message of Unity”
 
Karolina Kalbarczyk
8th grade, University Laboratory High School, Urbana, Illinois
“A New Birth of Freedom”
 
William Marks
8th grade, Pine Crest Preparatory School, Hollywood, Florida
“The Wireless Address”
 
Joshua Pohl
7th grade, Pohl Academy of Learning Home School, San Antonio, Texas
“A New Birth of Freedom”
 
Michael Prince
11th grade, Carlton J. Kell High School, Marietta, Georgia
“A New Birth of Freedom”
 
Courtney Williams
8th grade, Heritage Christian School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“A New Birth of Freedom”
 
 
The ten winners, each accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, will receive a private tour, and attend the dedication of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library as part of an all-expenses-paid, five-day “Looking for Lincoln” tour of Central Illinois.  The journey will take the students to numerous locations with ties to Abraham Lincoln.  The itinerary includes:
 
·                    April 15:  Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site, Petersburg; David Davis Mansion State Historic Site, Bloomington; Under the Prairie Archaeological Museum, Athens; Mt. Pulaski Courthouse State Historic Site, Mt. Pulaski; and Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Springfield.
·                    April 16:  Lincoln-Douglas Debate Museum, Charleston; Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, Charleston vicinity; Rock Springs Center, Decatur.
·                    April 17: Luncheon at Executive Mansion with First Lady Patti Blagojevich, visits to the Old State Capitol, Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, Great Western Depot, and Lincoln Tomb historic sites, all Springfield.
·                    April 18:  A special breakfast hosted by C-SPAN, a private tour of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, and official welcome by Governor Blagojevich.
·                    April 19:  The dedication ceremony for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.
 
The opening of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum features four days of activities April 16 through 19.  The current schedule of events includes a 5-K race, a two-day Looking for Lincoln Block Party, a two-day scholarly conference featuring some of the world’s top Lincoln experts, a re-creation of Lincoln’s Farewell address and an 1800s political torchlight parade, an outdoor concert complete with fireworks and a laser show, a Lincoln Bicentennial Commission breakfast, a re-created White House State Dinner fundraiser, and the public dedication ceremony at 11 a.m. Tuesday, April 19.          
 
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum brings Lincoln’s story to life like never before with exhibits and shows that immerse visitors in his life and times, making them fellow passengers in his journey from log cabin to the White House.  It is the largest presidential museum in the country, and offers for the first time a chance to display Illinois’ 47,000 original Lincoln artifacts.  The adjacent Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, which opened in October 2004, is the world’s foremost research facility about all aspects of Illinois history.


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