Interview with Robbie McCoy, Junior at Whippany Park, Who Won a New York Times Essay Contest

Gabriella Parrella

Robbie McCoy entered his own essay, “Gilded Age Mugwumps and ‘Republicans for Democrats’” for a New York Times contest under the topic of linking the school curriculum to the real world in 2019, and he won! In his editorial he compared the past political party, Mugwumps, and current day Republicans. Mrs. Meskill, A.P. Language and Composition teacher, complimented his writing as free of any mistakes and as a fully logical and comprehensive piece of work. She went as far as to say that this is an incredible achievement and that this will put him ahead for college admissions. Congratulations to Robbie McCoy, he should be as proud as all of Whippany Park is!

There is a perfect opportunity for you to enter a New York Times contest as well! The next topic is “An Issue that Matters to You.” Good luck!

Here is an interview I held with Robbie:

  1. Where did you see this competition?

I was browsing the Internet and came across the New York Times’ student essay contests. I was interested by the “Connections” contest in particular because it related to history, which is an interest of mine.


  1. Do you read the New York Times often?

I would say so. I often read the New York Times using the News app on my iPhone, and occasionally watch their YouTube channel, which I recommend.


  1. What made you pick your topic?

When I was brainstorming for the essay, I knew that I wanted to write about history or politics. In history class, I was interested by the party-switching Mugwumps in the 1884 Election because its comparable to what had happened within the Republican Party during the midterms.

  1. What do you want to do in the future, and has this experience helped you?

As my essay shows, I’m interested in history and politics, so I’m drawn to pursuing something somewhat related to those subjects, such as law or journalism. The contest definitely helped me practice developing a creative argument and conducting research for my writing.

5.What would you say to make other students enter contests like these?

I would encourage entering contests like these because they’re great practice and there’s no risk in entering one. If you find a contest that interests you, definitely do it. It’s a valuable experience that helps with writing and research skills, and is a great way to share your individual ideas.


  1. What advice would you give them?

Write about something that you’re interested in and enthusiastic about. Staying on task is important, and so is avoiding procrastination to leave time to edit. And its important for any essay to be well-rounded and well-researched.


  1. Did anyone help you?

I was the only one who wrote and compiled research for the essay, but my

History and English teachers have definitely taught me to think critically and write an effective essay such as the one I entered.