Essay contest open to high school students nationwide
Students, teachers eligible for cash prizes up to $5,000; $200,000 in prizes to be awarded
High school students nationwide are invited to participate in the 2008- 2009
“ Being an American” Essay Contest, which explores the rights and responsibilities of American citizenship.
Administered by the Bill of Rights Institute, a nonprofit educational organization in the Washington, DC area, the contest offers cash prizes totaling more than $ 189,000 to both students and their teachers. Top prize winners and their teachers also receive all- expenses paid trips to the nation’s capital.
“ The ‘ Being an American’ Essay Contest challenges high school students to evaluate American citizenship in light of our founders and our founding documents, and by doing so, promises to ensure a continuing national conversation about what unites America and its people,” said Bill of Rights Institute President Victoria Hughes. “ We urge classroom teachers and school systems across the country to take advantage of this valuable opportunity and explore the values, heroes and legacies that make our country and citizens unique.”
The coming 2008- 09 school year will be the first year in which high schoolaged students from every state will be eligible to enter the contest. The contest began in 2006- 07 in three states and expanded last year to 19 states and the District of Columbia. Over 17,000 students have participated in the contest to date.
To participate, students are asked to share their thoughts on American citizenship by answering the following question: “ What civic value do you believe is most essential to being an American?”
The names of the top three prize winners in each of nine regions will be announced at a special Washington, DC Awards Gala in the spring of 2009. The first place winners in each region, and their sponsoring teachers, will receive $ 5,000 cash awards; second place winners $ 2,500 and third place winners $ 1,250. The winning students will explore the nation’s capitol, meet contemporary American heroes and national leaders, and visit the Supreme Court, National Archives and other national landmarks. Honorable mention prizes of $ 250 will be awarded to 63 students, seven from each region.
The “ Being an American” Essay Contest has a dedicated web site, www. BeingAnAmerican. org, where teachers, parents and others can find complete rules and lesson plans, and is the only place where teachers can submit their students’ essays for consideration.
The deadline for consideration is Dec. 1. Winners will be announced Spring 2009.