Barrington Teen Is Illinois Winner in National Essay Contest

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Byline: Clara Bush and Marie Denecke

In 1958, a fire killed 92 children and three nuns at Our Lady of the Angels school in Chicago. A documentary about this disaster by Megan Siebert was the first step in the Barrington teen becoming the state winner in a national essay contest.

The soon-to-be eighth-grader at Science & Arts Academy in Des Plaines is the Illinois winner of The National World War II Museum's "Salute to Freedom" essay contest. She will represent Illinois when she travels to New Orleans in January to participate in the grand opening of the museum's U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center.

"I am really excited about this," said Megan. She has never been to New Orleans and being present at the opening of the new museum "sounds really neat," said the 13-year-old Barrington resident.

The contest is through a partnership with the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest. Megan first submitted a documentary about the 1958 Our Lady of the Angels school fire and the reforms put in place as a result. After qualifying for that contest, she submitted an application and two essays for the "Salute to Freedom" contest.

The first essay asked participants to tell how National History Day the past influences the present. So Megan wrote about how past lessons can help in present situations. The second essay asked how the state helped during World War II, so Megan focused on Illinois' geography, which provided food and transportation. …