And now, for something different

Every year the Nora Roberts Foundation awards a scholarship to a Boonsboro High School graduating senior whose higher education focus includes study of Journalism, Creative Writing, Communication, English, Education or related fields.

Applicants write a short story or essay–any topic, any genre, anything at all. We all read the entries, discuss them, consider them, debate them. It’s a big scholarship, and these college-bound young people deserve our serious attention.

Over the years, entries have ranged from the heart-rending to the delightful humorous, from the mysterious to the charming and everything you can imagine.  

It’s hard–really, really hard–to know you can only award one. Every senior who applies does their best, tries hard, takes the time, has that hope. It’s my hope that though only one can win, the others take their best, their efforts, time, hope forward.

I’m pleased to say we’ve had those awarded the scholarship go on to careers in Journalism, those who’ve become teachers, free-lance writers. I have a signed copy of a travel/hiking book on my office shelf from a previous winner. Others have gone into other fields as college is, and should be, an exploration.

In this long, long year of COVID, we can all use some strong, bright light. I got some of that from this year’s scholarship winner and her gorgeous love-letter to Boonsboro. I’d like to share Rebekah’s light and talent with you.

Congratulations, Rebekah, and wishes for all good things on your journey. You’re the future.


Click Kairosclerosis to read Rebekah’s winning essay.

43 thoughts on “And now, for something different”

  1. Holy cow! If this young lady does not follow in Nora’s footsteps it will be a tremendous waste of talent. That essay is amazing. Congratulations to her!

  2. Congratulations to Rebekah! That essay perfectly describes small town living. My small town, while bigger than Boonsboro, could be the town from the essay. Thank you for sharing it.

  3. Totally delightful…and oh the flood of memories it evoked!!! I grew in a small resort town…at the time, 1500 permanent residents…in the summer 30,000+ visitors. Wow the contrast!!!

    I would not trade one moment of those memories…one learns to value neighbors, be kind to one another…too small a place to be petty!

    Write in! You told your story well! Thank you!!

  4. Awesome essay. I, too, grew up in a Small Town. I so relate to her stories. And isn’t that what a good writer is supposed to do? Have the reader relate to their stories? She’s off to a good start.

  5. Excellent! The young lady is observant and appears to have a great future in front of her, no matter what career she finally chooses.

    She’s aware that life everywhere is full of ups and downs. Ignores the slings and arrows of students from larger areas, revels in the accomplishments of her fellow students, appreciates the efforts their teachers and coaches give them.

    Congratulations! Here’s hoping her dreams come true!

  6. WOW!!! Well done Rebekah! Well done, and congratulations. I would definitely buy your book when you publish! Or read any articles that you publish. This was an amazing essay. Keep up the good work. Good luck in college. Have fun, study hard. Best venture in the future.


  7. Beautiful. Beautiful. As a retired English teacher, in a small town, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada—I am cheering this girl onward.

    Thank you for sharing.

  8. Although I come from a large city, I truly felt her enthusiasm in capturing small town life. She epitomizes the term ‘winner,’ both in her writing and her attitude, showing her appreciation for something others might not recognize. Well-deserved kudos to a young lady who has a promising future. The only thing missing? A photo of her learning that she won the scholarship. That I would LOVE to have seen. Can you just imagine her excitement and disbelief?

  9. I’m in tears to read you do this! As a mother of a college student, I know how expensive college can be! I have always said if I could, I would do the same for others! Thank you so much for doing this!
    Congrats to Rebekah!!

  10. Beautiful words. Congratulations to Rebekah. She is off to a great start. Very intuitive young lady, should serve her well in a writing career.
    Thanks for sharing.

  11. As if I needed another reason to respect and love Nora, here it is! I love that you do this!!! My hats off to the winner! She took me with her to her town and high school experiences and triggered so many cherished memories of my own. Thank you!!!

  12. Wonderful tribute to her town. I come from a small town. I left for college, but I always wanted to come back. I did. There were people in my graduating class who couldn’t wait to leave and they did. Many however have worked their way back. I hope they have all found their happy as Rebekah has. I know I have.

  13. Wow. That was impressive. I can understand how she won the scholarship, and while reading this I could almost hear, smell and see her small town. Beautiful.

  14. Congratulations to Rebekah! What a wonderful tribute to a Small Town. I also came from a small town and our High School was Regional which meant we had five local small towns go to the same high school. Yeah our high school was larger at 1700 students but that is from five small towns. I remember one fellow student who could not wait to go to school in Miami and leave Small Town USA. Needless to say he did not finish school and he is back in Small Town USA. Go far and well Rebekah!

  15. Wonderful story, well done! The only small towns I have lived in were suburbs of bigger towns. So not a true comparison. Really have great perspective. Congratulations and thanks Nora for encouraging these next generations.

  16. Congratulations Rebekah! As a former Base Brat (daughter of a Canadian army soldier), I do not have a home town. But, through your essay, I got to experience the pride you have for your home town! Thank you!

  17. Thank you for letting us read Rebekah’s story. I thoroughly enjoyed it . . . and coming from someone who also lived in a small town, I understand Kairosclerosis. I had those moments, just didn’t know the name at the time. May your future allow you to do what makes you happy Rebekah.

  18. I have learned a new word that will stay in my mind. Kairosclerosis – I agree that it is felt often in a small town. Your essay showed a real understanding of your home town that too often isn’t appreciated until many years later. Congratulations, Rebekah & blessings on your future endeavors.

  19. Absolutely enchanting. Reading Rebekah’s essay gave me a glimpse into small town life and evoked so many emotions. Although I have never lived the “small town life” I’ve often read about it. My high school graduating class had 817 students- and although we were decidedly different, I still remember many of the same activities. Homecoming week and all the crazy competitions. Closing down the “main drag” for our parade. That same “main drag” that we cruised on Friday and Saturday nights- even bough technically it was not allowed. I went to a BIG football school which was actually named after a famous college football coach, and those football games were the place to be. Even though I was not an athlete- I was a drama geek- you went to those football games and cheered your ass off. The pep rallies, decorating your classes area hoping to win the coveted prize of “most spirited” as my class did every year we were there. Next year I’ll attend my 50th high school reunion, but even though so much time has passed, I still look back on my time in high school fondly. When I hear other people bemoan their high school experience, a part of me just can’t understand because it was so much fun for me.
    Thank you Nora and Laura, and especially Rebekah, for sharing such a wonderful essay that evokes happy memories. Congratulations Rebekah, and good luck with college, and whatever career you decide upon. I’m sure you’ll be a great success, and a credit to your “small town.”

  20. Wonderful. Really well done. She perfectly encapsulates growing up in a small town. It brought back wonderful memories. I’m sure it must be very difficult choosing among many qualified entries.

  21. Beautifully written piece. As an outsider looking in it really painted a picture of life in a small town in America. She is very talented.

  22. I am from a small town in Kansas. While reading, my head filled with wonderful memories mirrored in this scholarship submission. Feelings and emotions bubbled up in a warm and loving embrace. Nicely done! And a well deserved congratulations!

  23. What a wonderful letter. I’m in rural Northamptonshire, England in a village and I can relate to some of the sentiment. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and its written so well. Love it.

  24. This is beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. Congratulations, Rebekah and may your future be bright!

  25. I agree with everyone…this girl has a future in writing…and as a person who grew up in the small town also, with the same feelings as Rebekah, I agree with all that she said–just never knew that there was a work for it!!

  26. Congratulations Rebekah, she is an amazing writer. The essay was so descriptive I felt like I was there experiencing small town life with her. What a gift to get a brief glimpse of her life, she lifted the veil so we could really see her small town. No question this young lady will go far with the gift she has for writing.

  27. Congratulations Rebekah! Well written essay I could see everything she wrote and envisioned it in my mind, beautiful. I too grew up in a small town. Our summer months become a busy little town with all the out of towners coming in to their summer homes from the big cites and other states. But would not change a thing on how I grew up. Rebekah has a great future ahead of her in what every she choose to do.

  28. Beautiful essay. Such a talented young lady. I have tears of joy after reading it. Congratulations!

  29. What a beautiful essay. It resonated so much with me having grown up in a small town. Although I live in a slightly bigger town, my small hometown will always be home.

  30. I read the essay and found it very revealing about small town living. Truly showed the big differences ,especially with teenagers, with big cities compared to small communities. Very well written and I’m glad it won.

  31. Wow! Wonderful essay! I grew up in a small town and agreed with so much of what she wrote. We didn’t have a track team, but so many of the other things she writes about small towns is so spot on, and brought back so many memories for me.

  32. WOW! This young lady is HUGELY talented. It is no wonder you gave the award to her. Reading her words, I could see, feel, smell and hear what she was feeling with each of her recollections. While having never lived in a small town, I could feel the warmth she shared with her teammates and other townspeople, as they connected over victories and participation. She will have success in whatever field she chooses, because she sees clearly and can articulate her thoughts so well.

  33. Such authenticity! What impresses me most is that realness of what she is saying. And isn’t that the goal of all writers? Nicely done Rebekah, and nicely done NRF!

  34. Congratulations! What a wonderful essay. And I understand; I grew up in a small town in SW Ohio. There’s something special about it.

  35. That was simply Heartwarming!
    And also, so true. I grew up in one of those small towns too. Mine in central PA on the banks of the Susquehanna River.
    Congratulations ! Wishing this young lady many Blessings as her life unfolds before her!

  36. Congratulations Rebekah! I am a former high school counselor and principal of a small town >3000 and you captured the essence of the experience perfectly.

  37. Wow! That was a great essay. The way she described her view on small town life was a painting.

  38. Thanks for sharing her essay. It was a lovely way to spend a few minutes and her gift for writing took me right there to her small town, living the moments.

  39. Reading this while on the edge of arm of my chair is a Nora Roberts book “Always Next” … definitely makes me want to go live in a small town where everyone knows you 🙂

  40. Hey, Rebekah. I’m guessing you’re checking in occasionally to see what people are saying about and to you. I’m a few decades beyond where you now stand. Also a Southerner (you can tell by the “hey” which is Southern for “hi”), and also a small town girl, I’m also a wandering observer and writer whose degree in Journalism led me to a lovely big city and beyond. I loved not only your observations of life around you but your awareness of life within you as well. Others see what you saw, but your response was authentic. Though my career focus changed five times, that writer background and unquenchable curiosity led me every step of the way, as your authentic observer will lead you. I lived in Atlanta for 25 years (love NYC but they speak more clearly in ATL and hey, trees), traveled to some beautiful countries (you will LOVE that part), and fell into those rich sunset colors from an awesome variety of spots. All through it, my love of language, my word craft, my curiosity and willingness allowed me to touch others in ways that seemed to move things (I’m now a corporate trainer and personal coach). No matter what, writing fed everything. Communicating was and is job #1. And it will be the same with you. Your career may follow a straight or jagged line – no matter – but you just be you. Vision it. Write it. That’s all you need. Oh! I’m now back home, in the small town, and I know in every cell of me it’s good and right and the best base for wherever and whatever comes up tomorrow. Sunrises are good, too. Thanks for the word, as they give me kairosclerosis. And in days to come I’m gonna keep an eye out for your name. It’ll show up. It’s as sure as sunrise.

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