Five-Paragraph Essay: It's a Winner

Lest you think the five-paragraph essay is a thing of the past, the headline reads Essay Wins Ticket to the Inaugural.

Oh, and the lucky winner claims to have written it in five minutes.

Essay Wins Tickets To Inaugural

By David Schultz/The Connection
Wednesday, January 21, 2009

DESPITE BEING a native of the Washington D.C. area, James Riviere had never been to a Presidential inauguration. That changed this week when Riviere had a reserved front row seat for the swearing in of President Barack Obama.

The Cabin John resident, who works for an international non-profit group in Arlington, had tickets to the swearing-in, the parade and an inaugural ball. After the ceremonies, he and a friend were scheduled to stay in a hotel in the District. And all of this was for free.

Riviere had won the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s “Ticket to History” essay writing contest. His five paragraph essay on what the inauguration means to him was one of 10 winners out of more than 250,000 submissions from across the country.

Riviere wrote about his experiences in Kenya as a Peace Corps volunteer in early 2008. Since Kenya is the ancestral homeland of Obama, Riviere said that excitement among Kenyans about his candidacy was unreserved. “Everyone knew Barack Obama,” he said, “And everyone was confident that he was The Man.”

Only a few days after Obama’s historic primary victory in Iowa, violence erupted across Kenya due to a disputed presidential election there. Riviere was forced to evacuate and, although he made it home safely to Montgomery County, he was saddened and disappointed that his Peace Corps tour of duty had been cut short.



  1. Not sure this is much of a vindication the 5PE. Riviere's essay is decent enough, but where's the grand and vague generalization at the beginning? The thesis statement with promises to discuss three discreet aspects of the topic? The final paragraph that retreads the first? The topic sentences?!?

    Despite the number of paragraphs, this is no 5PE.

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  3. Yeah, you're right. It has five paragraphs, but doesn't do the simple mapping and rhetorical redundancy.

    And for the record, I'm not fan of the simplistic ways the fpe is taught and used. :)