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Museum announces history essay winners

Symmes Valley sweeps annual contest

WILLOW WOOD — Each year, the Lawrence County Museum hosts a historical essay competition, open to all fourth graders in the county, in which students are asked to write about a local history topic of their choice.

Schools send the top essays to the museum, where they are judged by the trustees.

Typically, an awards ceremony takes place at the museum, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, gatherings have been called off.

But, as luck would have it, all the winners this year were from the same school, Symmes Valley Elementary, in Jessi Newman’s class, so honoring all of them was easy.

Officials from the museum visited the school last week, where they gave the winners certificates for their efforts, as well as cash prizes.

In first place was Mason Adams, who won $50. He wrote about the Waterloo Wonders, the famed basketball team of the 1930s who originated near his school.

Coming in second was Rylee Littlejohn, who won $25 and wrote about 151 years of the Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade.

And in third was Ella Damron, who won $15. She chose for her topic James Lawrence, the U.S. Naval officer and namesake of the county.

The museum has hosted the competition for 11 years.

Here are the winning essays this year:

First place
The Waterloo Wonders
By Mason Adams

The Waterloo Wonders entire team exhibited unparalleled basketball skills. Their famous starting five consisted of point guard Beryl Drummond, Curt McMahon, Stewart Wiseman, Orlyn Roberts and Wyman Roberts. (The Ironton Tribune | File photo)

The Waterloo Wonders were a small basketball team who became legends. This essay is all about the Waterloo Wonders in the year 1934 and 1935. I went to a Vikings game and they were dressed up as the Waterloo Wonders. It seemed exciting, so I decided to write about them.

So here is all you would want to know about the Waterloo Wonders.

The 1934-1935 team of the Waterloo Wonders was probably the best high school team of that time. They were a pretty big team of 26 people, but, on the road, they could only have five — that’s just enough for one team! The reason was that they could only fit five people in coach Magellan Hairston’s car. But, somehow, they still managed to win 94-97 games. Now that’s impressive.

You know how they got so good. Somehow they practiced by tying up a bunch of rags to use as a ball, so they got used to playing with a ball that couldn’t even bounce! Which got them better by learning how to pass the ball instead of just dribbling it around all day which if you ask me, is what the professionals do now a days. But that’s not all the ways they entertained the fans. They also entertained the fans by their defense, trick passes, scoring ability, and hardwood antics.

And if you think that’s cool, you haven’t read nothing yet. The Waterloo Wonders were so good, they even defeated college teams!

How is that even possible! Also, the 91st Ohio House of Representatives honored them with a resolution of their 2nd Class B championship win. When I thought that, I thought, “NO WAY!” The House of Representatives are a part of the government! They honored a small team like the Waterloo Wonders!

In conclusion, that is how cool I think the Waterloo Wonders are. I hope you enjoyed this amazing documentary about the 1934-1935 Waterloo Wonders. The reason I like them so much is that I go to the same school. Only now with a different name.

Anyway, stay safe and stay home, bye!

Second place
The Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade
By Rylee Littlejohn

LEFT: The riderless horse is escorted along the route of the 2019 Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison) RIGHT: The 2020 Ironton_Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade was held without in-person spectators, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and was livestreamed to viewers. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

Every year, I celebrate Memorial Day by attending the Ironton Memorial Day Parade. This is the tradition for my family, as it is for many other Lawrence County citizens. The Memorial Day Parade is not a celebration to mark the end of the school year and the beginning of summer, although it is a fun start. It is a celebration of honor, our country and our history.

The first Ironton Memorial Day Parade was on May 30, 1868. It came after an order from Union Army Gen. John A. Logan. He wanted a national day to remember the soldiers who died during the Civil War. The citizens of Ironton decided to honor these soldiers by forming a parade. The town has held a parade every year since then. In 1978, Congress recognized the Ironton Memorial Day Parade as the longest running parade in the country.

The Ironton Memorial Day Parade has changed and grown over the years. It now honors all the military and veterans of U.S. wars.

The parade is made up of military people and veterans, school bands, dancers, clubs, church groups, clowns, fire trucks and so much more that makes the parade fun to watch. Another interesting performance during the parade is the flyover by military fighter jets.

It takes a lot of time to prepare the parade each year. A parade committee made up of citizens and local club members spend several months organizing this event.

Last year, on May 25, 2020, the 152nd Ironton Memorial Day Parade was held without spectators. It was the first time that I did not attend the parade. This was due the COVID-19 pandemic. However, our community came together to continue our tradition by holding a smaller parade within health care recommendations to honor our veterans. Although observers could not be present, the parade could be watched worldwide by livestream and later on television.

In conclusion, the Ironton Memorial Day Parade is an important part of our county’s history and heritage. I am proud to be part of the community that celebrates the famous Ironton Memorial Day Parade. I am proud to carry on this tradition that honors our military and veterans.

Third place
Capt. James Lawrence
By Ella Damron

Capt. James Lawrence

Lawrence County was named after a man named James Lawrence. James Lawrence worked as an American naval officer. During the war of 1812, he commanded the USS Chesapeake in a single-ship action against HMS Shannon, commanded by Philip Broke.

Today he is probably best known for his last words or dying command, “Don’t give up the ship!”

James Lawrence was born October 1, 1781 and died June 4, 1813. His parents were Martha Tallman Lawrence and John Lawrence.

James Lawrence was 31 years old when he died. James fought against Barbary pirates.

James Lawrence was buried at Trinity Church Cemetery, New York. He worked as an American Navel Officer since 1798-1813.

James was born in Burlington, New Jersey but raised in Woodbury, New Jersey. His wife named Julia lived until 1865. They had a daughter named Mary Lawrence.

James Lawrence was a very important part of Lawrence County and he has a lot of history. That was the history of James Lawrence.