Scholar’s Award

Rural Awareness Scholar’s Award was initiated in 2007 for Franklin Township School students whose essay competition entries most effectively illustrate their understanding and appreciation of life in the Township.

Prizewinners all receive gift certificates for the Frenchtown Bookshop, First place gets $50; second, $30; and honorable mention, $10. Prizewinners are also invited to read their essays publicly at a bookshop event. The grand prize winner is selected from the first-place winners for each participating grade and additionally receives a $40 gift certificate for a family pizza night courtesy of Duke’s Pizzeria & Restaurant in Pittstown.

Feedback comes in from time to time on our programs. Here’s a gratifying note from the father of one Grand Champion essayist:

“Thank you very much to Rural Awareness for continuing to run the essay contest. I think that our children need constant reminders of how lucky they are to be living in our peaceful community. This program, in a very simple way, provides the right sort of reminder to a community at large [about] what we do have living in Hunterdon County.”

Topics and winners from 2007 to the present are listed below. For 2014 and beyond, click on the child’s name to view the essay.

Copies of all essays submitted—from 2007 on—are kept in The Franklin Archives in the environmentally-controlled archives of the Hunterdon County Historical Society. They are available for researchers through the Hiram E. Deats Memorial Library, 114 Main Street, Flemington.

2022: Franklin Township is a nature lover’s paradise throughout the year. There are so many opportunities for us to be outside, enjoying the fresh air. During which season do you feel closest to nature here in Franklin, and why? As you write, think about the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feel of that season and describe them as colorfully as you can. (CLICK HERE for Press Release.)

(Click on the name to download the essay.)

Third grade: Olivia Hammer, first place and Grand Champion; Lucas Morais, second place; Payton Dickson,  honorable mention

Fourth grade: Anna Strauss, first place; Ross Stephens, second place; Jack Armagast, honorable mention

Fifth grade: Timmy LaSasso, first place; Vincent Randall, second place; Scarlett Prendergast, honorable mention

2022 Winners

Bookshop Reading

2021: Franklin is most fortunate to have an original 1837 one-room schoolhouse on the FTS grounds to help teach us our history. If you had the choice of going to school in such a one-room schoolhouse with one teacher and students of all ages, or attending school as you do today, which would you choose and why? Think about the differences in the two styles of schooling and what they would mean to you. Would you learn more in one school or the other? (CLICK HERE for Press Release)

(Click on the name to download the essay.)
Grand Champion: Payton Matis
Fifth grade: Payton Matis, first place; Jonas Thompson, second place; Gavin Krehely, honorable mention.
Fourth grade: Jens Gallacher, first place; Vincent Randall, second place; Ashley Luciano, honorable mention.
Third grade: Jack Armagast, first place; Ellah Varughese, second place; Jack Carlton, honorable mention

2020: You are an artist. Using only words, “paint a picture” of what you think is the most beautiful scene in Franklin Township. Describe that scene in vivid detail and also explain how it makes you feel when you see it.

(CLICK HERE for Press Release) (Click on the name to download the essay.)

Grand Champion: Erich Strauss
Fifth grade: William McDonald first place; Cole Kober second place; Liam MacKinnon, honorable mention.
Fourth grade: Erich Strauss, first place; Colby Hender, second place; Taylor Witkowski, honorable mention.

2019: Seeing the beauty of wildlife is one of the special benefits of living in rural Franklin Township. Plan your essay by first choosing one of the following categories of local wildlife:

Butterflies, bees, and bugs
Wild animals (not pets or farm animals)
Wild birds
Outdoor flowers, plants, and trees
Fish and other water creatures found in rivers, streams, ponds, lakes

Write about your favorite species within the category you chose and explain why you like it or find it interesting. Where can this species be found in Franklin Township (in you backyard, on the trails, by a creek or river)? Please share any personal experiences you have had with your subject matter. (CLICK HERE for Press Release)
(Click on the name to download the essay.)
Grand Champion: Sophia Randall
Third grade: Erick Strauss, first place; Alex Mani, second place; Jonas Thompson, honorable mention.
Fourth grade: Reid Becker, first place; Gavin Buczek, second place; Tyler Turek, honorable mention.
Fifth grade: Sophia Randall, first place; Mason Witkowski, second place; Sophia DeTorres, honorable mention.

2018: Your big city cousins are coming to visit for a month this summer. Write them a letter describing life in rural Franklin Township and what they might expect from a visit here. (CLICK HERE for Press Release)
(Click on the name to download the essay.)
Grand Champion: Sophia Randall
Third grade: Tyler Turek, first place; Joseph Hubert, second place; Kirsten Obiedzinski, honorable mention.
Fourth grade: Sophia Randall, first place; Olivia French, second place; Ryland Hender, honorable mention.
Fifth grade: Kevin York, first place; Chase Kober, second place; Brooke Obiedzinski, honorable mention;

2017: What do you need to do to be a good, contributing member of your community, whether in your school or in your township?
(Click on the name to download the essay.)
Grand Champion: Olivia French
Third grade: Olivia French, first place; Amber Wronski, second; Lenora Bonacorsi, honorable mention;
Mackenzie Gilbert, honorable mention.
Fourth grade: Brooke Obiedzinski, first place; Tarek Jafri, second; Scott Turek, honorable mention.
Fifth grade: Madilyn Thompson, first place; Olivia Luciano, second; William Peck, honorable mention.

2016: We’re fortunate to live in a rural area with open space and miles of beautiful trails and country roads for walking, hiking, horseback riding, bicycling, and picnicking. Tell us about what you see and hear – and especially what you feel – when you’re outside enjoying nature here in Franklin Township.
(Click on the name to download the essay.)
Grand Champion: Kaitlyn Meyer
Third grade: Luke McDonald, first place; Brandon Blaszka, second; Ryan Bauman, honorable mention;
Chase Kober, honorable mention.
Fourth grade: Madilyn Thompson, first place; Alexis Lonoff, second; Katie Piotrowski, honorable mention.
Fifth grade: Kaitlyn Meyer, first place; Taylor Simms, second; Alexander Turner, honorable mention.

2015: Write a letter to future Franklin Township School students about the school today. Rural Awareness wants your help in creating a time capsule that will be opened in 2037 – – 22 years from now – – in celebration of the 1837 little red schoolhouse’s 200th anniversary. We’re asking you to write a letter to Franklin Township School students of 2037 telling them what is special about the school in 2015 and what you think might change at the school over the next 22 years, even if you wish it would stay just the way it is today.
(Click on the name to download the essay.)
Grand Champion: Elias Thompson
Third grade: Olivia Luciano, first place; Danielle DiEsso, second; Thomas Jack ‘TJ’ Mani, honorable mention.
Fourth grade: Kaitlyn Meyer, first place; Bradley Kneller, second; Liah Forbes, honorable mention.
Fifth grade: Elias Thompson, first place; Lauren Salemo, second; Christina Piparo, honorable mention.

2014: There are several fun events in Franklin Township during the year, like Community Day, the fishing derby, trunk-or-treat, summer recreation camp, and others. Imagine that you are telling a student your age who has just moved to Franklin which event you like best and why you like it. Or maybe your favorite event is one your family or neighborhood holds here in Franklin Township; if so, tell the newcomer about it.
(Click on the name to download the essay.)
Grand Champion: Elias Thompson
Third grade: Samantha Muller, first place; Taylor Simms, second; Liam Wilde, honorable mention.
Fourth grade: Elias Thompson, first place; Ryan James Drwal, second; Kyle Johnson, honorable mention.
Fifth grade: Gabrielle Meyer, first place; Sean Hyland, second; Anthony Riello, honorable mention.

2013: Imagine you’re a newspaper reporter. Interview someone who graduated from Franklin Township School before 1995 and write a newspaper article that tells the person’s favorite memories and stories of life at FTS.
Grand Champion: Elias Thompson
Third grade: Elias Thompson, first place; Lauren Salemo, second; and Dominick Edwards, honorable mention.
Fourth grade: Kyle Schultz, first place; Kelly Sautner, second; and Matthew Lilien, honorable mention.
Fifth grade: Jake Ehrmann first place; Renee Soika, second; and Claudia Kreitler, honorable mention.

2012: What makes the rural community of Franklin Township such a special place to live?
Grand Champion: John Erik Drwal
Third grade: Aaron Fisher, first place; Tiago Costa, second; and Gabrielle Meyer, honorable mention.
Fourth grade: John Erik Drwal, first place; Logan DeCanio, second; and Christina Faust, honorable mention.
Fifth grade: Thomas Obiedzinski, first place; Jane Lundgren, second; and Brittany Marcantuono, honorable mention.

2011: Tell us why we need farms in our rural community, using your favorite farm in Franklin Township as an example.
Third grade: Gabrielle Lamer, first place; and Alice Lundgren, second.
Fourth grade: Brittany Marcantuono, first place; and Adam Coe, second.
Fifth grade: Cole Salemo, first place; and Sky Gonzalez, second.

2010: If you could create laws to protect the rural quality of Franklin Township, what would they be?
Grand Champion: Erin Carbone
Third grade: Jack Gilmore, first place; Brittany Marcantuono, second; and Grace Gordon, honorable mention.
Fourth grade: Erin Carbone, first place; Gillian Wintermute, second; and Kyle Conover, honorable mention.
Fifth grade: Tyler Marcantuono, first place; Quinn Cleverley, second; and Morgan Innella, honorable mention.

2009: Interview someone who lived in the township before 1955 and find out what life was like in Franklin during the ‘old days.’
Grand Champion: Brendan Flanigan
Third grade: Rachel Schultz, first place; and Hallie Mathews, second.
Fourth grade: Brendan Flanigan, first place; and Tyler Marcantuono, second.
Fifth grade: Jessen Haug, first place; and Courtney Schwar, second.
Sixth grade: Anna Piparo, participation award.

2008: Tell us about your favorite farm in Franklin Township, and tell us why farming is so important to our rural community.
Grand Champion: Alyssa Mancini
Third grade: Haley Wright, first place; and Tyler Marcantuono, second.
Fourth grade: Jessen Haug, first place; and Cameron Crisologo, second.
Fifth grade: Alyssa Mancini, first place; and Phyllis Pan, second.
Sixth grade: Hugh Zimmerbaum, first place; and Spencer Parker-Klimpel, second.

2007: What makes this rural community of Franklin Township so special to live in, with its beautiful farmlands, fields, forest, and historic places?
Third grade: Carmine Ricciardi, first place; and Tabbatha Schultz, second.
Fourth grade: Bianca Riello, first place; and Ian Fallon, second.
Fifth grade: Hugh Zimmerbaum, first place; and Bruce Cargill, second.
Sixth grade: Kaity Edelmann, first place; and Jake Popa, second.