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Samuel Huntington's role in history remembered in annual Norwich ceremony

Norwich - A local wreath-laying ceremony to honor "Connecticut's favorite son" Samuel Huntington spanned the generations Tuesday, as students from second to seventh grade joined the event and read winning essays on Huntington and other forgotten greats of Norwich's past.

The annual ceremony, started by the late William B. Stanley several years ago, is a local tribute in the national tradition of laying wreaths at the graves of deceased U.S. presidents. Huntington was president of the Second Continental Congress prior to passage of the Constitution in 1787.

Stanley's son, William A. Stanley, presided at Tuesday's ceremony attended by about 50 people who gathered on lawn chairs, on the grass or along the cemetery stone wall. Stanley said his father would have been proud of the five students who read the winning essays on notable yet forgotten figures: the Rev. James Fitch, John Mason, Mohegan Sachem Uncas, Civil War Capt. Daniel Tyler and Huntington.

Jason Pough, who will enter fourth grade at Samuel Huntington School, received the first-place prize of an iPod donated by Walmart for his essay on Huntington. His essay, read by classmate Andrea Li, gave a brief biography of Huntington and his rise to fame and national prominence during and after the Revolutionary War.

Former state Troubadour Tom Callinan, who lives nearby at the Norwichtown Green, sang his own tutorial on Huntington, describing him as "Connecticut's favorite son in the days of Washington and Jefferson." One line in the song notes that "George what's his name" called Huntington "president."

The essays weren't confined to Huntington. Ross Anderson, Norwich public schools' extended learning coordinator, said students were asked to write about any of the forgotten founders or prominent figures in Norwich history.

Participating students are enrolled in the Bridges Summer Learning Center at the John B. Stanton School, which is funded through student fees and several grants. The five-week program combines academics with sports and service learning projects, Anderson said.

Students were invited back for a second contest next summer, and Norwich Walmart manager Ada Johnson said the store would again sponsor the essay contest.

c.bessette@theday.com

Essay contest winners and their prizes

First place: Jason Pough, fourth-grader, Samuel Huntington School; an iPod

Second place: Gabrielle Robb, fifth-grader, John M. Moriarty School; $50 Walmart gift card

Third place: Shanice Brown, seventh-grader, Teachers Memorial Middle School; $25 Walmart gift card

Fourth place: Garrett Owen, third-grader, Uncas School; $25 Walmart gift card

Fifth place: Sammi Weng, third-grader, Thomas Mahan School; $25 Walmart gift card

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