Summit graduate wins Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize for research writing

Victoria Walton wins the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize from The Concord Review.

The Concord Review has given Victoria Walton, a 2019 Summit Country Day School graduate, their Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize.

The Concord Review has given Victoria Walton, a 2019 Summit Country Day School graduate, their Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize. 

Victoria, who will attend Elon University this fall, wrote a 64-page research paper about Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, a World War II German army officer and resistance leader whose failed attempt to assassinate Adolph Hitler came to be known as the “20 July plot” or Operation Valkyrie. 

Her paper was published in the fall 2019 issue of the Concord Review. The review is a national quarterly which champions high school research writing. Victoria is the seventh student from The Summit to be published in the Concord Review and the third Summit student to be given the Emerson prize.  

Research writing has become a passion in the Walton family. That list of published Summit students includes Victoria’s sisters, Caroline, Class of 2017, and Emily, Class of 2015. Caroline and Emily also won the Emerson prize. 

Victoria began her research on von Stauffenberg as part of her sophomore writing requirement in Modern World History, taught by social studies teacher Jeff Stayton, an award-winning Holocaust educator and board member of the Center For Holocaust and Humanity Education. In her junior year, Victoria had an Independent Study course on the German military resistance to Hitler and the Nazi regime during World War II. In this class, she was mentored by Stayton and Kelly Cronin, social studies teacher and Interim Upper School Director, who has served as a writing coach for other students who have been published in the Concord Review. 

“Sometimes Summit teachers have an influence that goes past one generation,” says Ms. Cronin. “In the early 1980s the late Farrell Ackley instilled a love of history in Victor Walton. Victor, in turn, encouraged all three of his daughters to embrace doing historical research and even went so far as to take his youngest, Victoria, all the way to Washington D.C. so she could work in the archive there.” 

Farrell Ackley had a lasting impact on The Summit’s faculty as well.  

The Summit’s signature Writing Program, which has developed over years of continuous commitment by teachers and students, is a rigorous curriculum that starts in the preschool and culminates in complex research and writing projects in the Middle and Upper Schools. Summit alumni often remark that they are better prepared for college writing assignments than their peers. In a recent survey, 89% of The Summit’s young alumni ranked their writing ability higher than their college peers, compared to 61% at benchmark independent schools like The Summit. 

It has been said that it is harder to get into Harvard University than The Concord Review, yet seven Summit students, among only nine students from Cincinnati, have done so.