Dominion Virginia Power and the Library of Virginia
Strong Men & Women in Virginia History
2013 Student Writing Contest Winners

Central Region
John Roakes - (senior)
Prize: HP Laptop
School: Hanover High School
Hanover County
Principal: Dr. Dana Gresham
School award: $1,000
full essay »
essay presentation »

Eastern Region
Michelle Graham - (senior)
Prize: HP Laptop
School: Windsor High School
Isle of Wight County
Principal: Mr. Daniel Soderholm
School award: $1,000
full essay »
essay presentation »

Northern Region
Donovan McLaurine - (senior) Prize: HP Laptop
School: Courtland High School
Spotsylvania County
Principal: Mr. Larry Marks
School award: $1,000
full essay »
essay presentation »

Western Region
Daroon Jalil - (senior)
Prize: HP Laptop
School: Turner Ashby High School
Rockingham County
Principal: Mr. Steven Walk
School award: $1,000
full essay »
essay presentation »

Contest Overview
High school students in Virginia are invited to honor outstanding African Americans by participating in Dominion Virginia Power and Library of Virginia’s Strong Men & Women in Virginia History student writing contest. Four winning essays will be chosen, one from each of the four regions in Virginia that Dominion Virginia Power serves.

“I want children to remember that the most important part of your life is your character. It goes with you all through your life. I learned long ago that to make it a better world, it had to begin with me."   Nannie Mae Berger Hairston

Nannie Mae Berger Hairston (b. 1921) grew up in West Virginia, where her father worked in the coalfields. Her parents taught her the value of knowledge, kinship, and kindness by sharing their home and food with travelers and neighbors. Since settling with her husband and four daughters in Christiansburg in 1953, Hairston has worked quietly and tirelessly for her community. An advocate for civil rights, she joined the Montgomery County–Radford City–Floyd County branch of the NAACP, where she held numerous offices and continues to be a member. She was also a founding member of the Montgomery County League of Women Voters. Hairston has worked to expand local employment opportunities for African-American women and opened her home to children in need.

Dedicated to preserving local history as well as educating young people, Hairston has worked since the 1960s on behalf of the Christiansburg Community Center. Formerly known as the Hill School, it was the original site of what became the Christiansburg Institute, the only high school in southwestern Virginia for African-American students.

Describe what impact you will have on your local community. What can you do to make your community, your nation, your world a better place? Will the quote above play a role in your development as a leader?

Submit your winning 400-word essay by Friday, November 16, 2012, for a chance to win a laptop computer and $1,000 for your school!

Contest Rules

  • Entries must be submitted online by the deadline of Friday, November 16, 2012.
  • Each entrant must be a high school student at a public or private high school in one of Dominion Virginia Power’s four regional service areas in Virginia. Homeschoolers may also apply; the $1,000 school award can be applied to a homeschooler association if the winner’s family has an active, dues-paying membership.
  • No entry may be longer than 400 words.
  • All entries must be original works that have not been published or submitted for publication anywhere else.
  • Entries become the property of the Library of Virginia and will not be returned.
  • No purchase necessary to enter or win.
  • The Library of Virginia and Dominion Virginia Power reserve the right to use the winners’ names and entries for promotional purposes in all forms of media without notice, review, approval, or compensation, except where prohibited by law.
  • Judging decisions are final.


  • Deadline for entries is November 16, 2012.
  • Winners announced on December 14, 2012.
  • Winning essays posted to both the Library of Virginia ( and Dominion (, keyword “strong”) websites by December 14, 2012.
  • Awards ceremony will be held in Richmond on Wednesday, January 30, 2013.


  • Winning students will receive an HP Pavilion laptop computer.
  • Winning students’ schools will receive a cash award of $1,000 at the award ceremony in January. Each winner and a school representative must attend the ceremony to receive their awards. Virginia Power will provide overnight accommodations for out-of-town winners.
  • Arrangements will be made with the winning schools for the student and a school representative to attend the January ceremony in Richmond to receive the awards.

Judging Criteria


Reflection of careful and thorough thought


Prompt answered and main idea clearly represented


Relevant, quality details about important thoughts and concepts


Essay flows well and shows good word choice and diction


Correct use of grammar, spelling, and punctuation; entry does not exceed 400 words

Questions? Please call 804-692-3719 or e-mail