Essay contest focuses on Constitution

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:29

    Students and their teachers compete for cash prizes up to $1,000 Arlington, VA. — High school students and their teachers can participate in the Bill of Rights Institute’s sixth annual Being an American Essay Contest. The largest contest of its kind in the country, the Being an American Essay Contest explores the Founding principles outlined in the Constitution. The contest is administered by the Bill of Rights Institute, a non-profit educational organization in the Washington, D.C., area devoted to educating young people about the Constitution and founding principles. The 2011-2012 contest is sponsored by the History Channel. “This contest is unique in that it gives students the opportunity to think about the important founding principles communicated in our Constitution,” said Dr. Jason Ross, Bill of Rights Institute's vice president of education programs. “This context is vital to helping students see their founding principles as a meaningful part of the American experiment of self-government.” Specifically, students are asked to share their thoughts on the Constitution by answering the following question: “How does the Constitution establish and maintain a culture of liberty?” The top three student winners from each of the five geographical regions will be awarded cash prizes of $1,000 (First Place), $500 (Second Place) and $250 (Third Place). Teacher sponsors for each student winner will also receive a cash prize of $100. “The contest not only honors and awards sponsoring teachers, but also equips them with free lesson plans and other supplemental materials that meet state and national academic standards so they can easily incorporate the essay contest into their classrooms. The contest is really a tribute to the excellent work teachers do in the important task of civic education,” said Ross. Over 80,000 students have participated in the essay contest since it began in 2006. Further information, including submission criteria, lesson plans and background information on the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Founders and the Founding principles are available at Contest details Contest goal: To help promote dialogue among students and teachers about American Founding principles. The Essay Contest serves as a key part of the Bill of Rights Institute's mission to educate young people about the words and ideas of America's Founders, the liberties guaranteed in our Founding documents, and how our Founding principles continue to affect and shape a free society. Essay question: “How does the Constitution establish and maintain a culture of liberty?” Eligibility: Students in grades 9 through 12 who are U.S. citizens or legal residents and are either attending public, private, religious or charter schools, being home-schooled or participating in a GED or correspondence school program but are no older than 19 years of age. Military bases and U.S. territories are also invited to participate. Essay length: No more 1,000 words. Judging criteria: Adherence to essay question Originality Organization Writing style Depth of analysis Judges: High school teachers Deadline for essay submissions: Dec. 15, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. PST. All essays must be submitted at Winners announced: February 2012 Web site and contest guidelines: