BETHEL — Two Gould Academy students are among the winners of the Camden Conference’s annual Bill Taylor Award for their essay related to the 2022 Conference, Europe: Challenged at Home and Abroad. Thomas Lowell of Gould Academy was the Second Prize winner, and Gould’s Burke MacLeay shared Third Prize with Samantha Goodwin of Piscataquis CHS. Piscataquis Community High School student Ruth O. Griffith won First Prize.

Ruth Griffith

In her First Prize essay, Griffith argued for early U.S. intervention in the Russia-Ukraine conflict – which, coincidentally, began on the eve of the February 25-27 Camden Conference – based on the positive outcomes of U.S. interventions in WWI and WWII. Griffith compared the U.S. with the mythological hero Beowulf as the defender of a populace against outside aggression, a comparison the contest judges called “highly original.”

Thomas Lowell

Second Prize winner Thomas Lowell of Gould Academy was praised by the judges for a “well developed and strongly argued” case for containment of Russia’s current and future incursions, for expansion of NATO membership, and for continued E.U./U.S. collaboration and U.S. military support of Ukraine. When notified of his award, Mr. Lowell praised his AP Government teacher, Adam Leff, who “inspired me to write the paper and instilled my love of government studies.”

Burke MacLeay

Samantha Goodwin

Gould Academy’s Burke MacLeay, the Third Prize co-winner, discussed in his essay the weakness of the European Union’s response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. The judges said MacLeay’s essay was a “well written and focused” analysis of the E.U.’s inability to act as a peacemaker in the Ukraine conflict. Piscataquis CHS’s Samantha Goodwin was awarded a share of Third Prize for what the judges called a “thought-provoking essay” that argued for a return to a rules-based world order through tactical interventions to counter Russia’s violation of this order.

The Bill Taylor Award was created by its namesake in 2015 to promote student research. Taylor was a long-time Camden Conference supporter with a strong interest in education. The Camden Conference education programs are designed to promote knowledge, perspectives, and dialogue opportunities on world affairs with high school and college educators and their students. Several Maine high schools and colleges offer academic courses based on the annual Conference topic. Twenty percent of the nearly 1200 Conference attendees are high school and college students who receive Camden Conference scholarship funding to defray their registration costs. The students who enter the essay contest do not have to be enrolled in a Camden Conference course, but they do have to attend the Conference.

The Camden Conference congratulates our winners and thanks all of the students who participated! The winning essays are posted on our website:

The mission of the Camden Conference is to foster informed discourse on world issues. For more information,, email, or call 207-236-1034.

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