Return to Headlines

Unionville-Chadds Ford Virtual Academy (UCFVA) Students Honored for Winning Essay Contest

Siblings Lucas and Lillianna Yates were celebrated as the Chester County Chapter’s winners of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) American history essay contest at the West Goshen Township Municipality building on Monday, February 12, 2024.  

Lucas and Lillianna, who are both students at Unionville-Chadds Ford Virtual Academy (UCFVA), facilitated by Brandywine Virtual Academy (BVA), were selected as the local winners for their essays highlighting John Philip Sousa and his role in writing the marching song, “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” as well as the official marching song of the United States Marine Corps, “Semper Fidelis.” Both Lucas and Lillianna wrote exceptional essays from an accurate and historically supported perspective. 

"Lucas' achievement speaks to his strong work ethic and natural curiosity for history," said Jennifer Burpoe, Lucas' UCFVA social studies teacher. "I am very proud of his accomplishment."  


When asked why he entered the DAR essay contest, Lucas’ answer was simple. “I enjoy reading about history,” he said. When asked how UCFVA helped prepare him for this accomplishment, Lucas said it helped him gain more experience with typing skills and working on documents. “My teachers did a great job of helping me one-on-one,” he added.  

Lillianna’s UCFVA social studies teacher, Charlie Gracie, also expressed immense pride in Lillianna’s achievement. “Lillianna’s projects and essay responses this year have been consistently insightful,” said Gracie. 


“I was excited when I heard there was a chance for me to practice my writing skills and learn about history while doing it,” said Lillianna. When asked what advice she would give to future participants, she said, “Just try it. Even if you don’t win, you’ll learn something new and have a sense of accomplishment about yourself.” 


The DAR American history contest is open to students in grades 5-8 who attend public school, non-traditional public school or approved home-schooling programs. The American history essay focuses on the men and women who played a role in the events of the American Revolution and challenges students to explore patriots who interest and inspire them. The patriot could be a famous founder or an everyday man, woman or child who contributed to the American Revolution.   

  Students who submit an essay are asked to discuss how their patriot contributed to the founding of our nation. Essays are judged on historical accuracy, structure, interest, originality, spelling, grammar, punctuation and the quality and credibility of references. 


The national winner will be announced in April and will receive a certificate, medal and cash prize. The winner will also be recognized at the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution annual Continental Congress, and the winning essay may appear in official DAR communications.  


For information regarding the DAR American History Essay Contest, visit For more information about BVA, please visit