South River Historical Society launches eighth annual scholarship essay contest

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SOUTH RIVER–More than seven years ago, the South River Historical & Preservation Society created a writing contest for students to document their experiences as residents.

Today, the society has launched its eighth annual Richard Meyers Memorial South River History High School Essay Contest for high school seniors.

Honorary Trustee Stephanie Bartz said the contest is open to all graduating high school seniors who live in the borough, regardless of what school they’ll be graduating from. The deadline for submissions is April 15.
“The requirements for the contest are simple. Each student must submit a typed essay of no less than 1,000 words, approximately two pages, single-spaced, in 12-point font,” Bartz said. “The essay must be about something that took place in South River in his or her lifetime. The event need not have been a major event in South River’s history, just something of significance to the student.”
Bartz said the first essay contest was held in 2013.
The executive board had considered hosting some kind of scholarship contest for several years. We wanted the contest to be something meaningful for the society and South River,” Bartz said. “In late 2012, we hit on the idea of an essay contest that would require students to write about something that happened in South River in their lifetime.”
Bartz said the essays would become a permanent part of the collections at the South River Museum and so contribute to the record of the borough’s history.
“We were just starting to finalize those plans when we were contacted by the family of a former society president, Richard Meyers, who passed away in 2010,” Bartz said. “They were looking to make a donation to set up an educational fund in [Meyer’s] name. Thanks to that bit of serendipity, the Richard Meyers Memorial South River History High School Essay Contest was born.”
Bartz said all entries must include the applicant’s full name, address, phone number and email address, as well as their school’s name, expected date of graduation, date of submission and future education plans.
The first-place winner receives a check for $500, second place receives $350 and third place receives $150, according to Bartz.
“The most obvious reason for entering the essay contest is the possibility of winning money that can be put toward future educational goals. We hope that students will also be interested in becoming a documented part of South River’s history,” Bartz said. “Future historians, as well as the family and friends of those who submit essays, will be able to visit the museum, read the essays and get a glimpse of history that might otherwise have been lost to time.”
Bartz said every essay received by the society, whether among the winners or not, is retained in the collections at the South River Museum.
“Along with photographs, diaries, personal histories and first-hand accounts of events are some of the most valuable historical items the society collects,” Bartz said. “In years to come, the essays will provide insights into aspects of South River history that might otherwise be forgotten.”
Bartz said in previous years, the society has required that both an email and a printed copy of the essay be submitted. For 2020, the society waived the print requirement and are asking that essays simply be emailed.
To submit an essay, email
For more information about the essay contest, visit
Contact Vashti Harris at
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