Civics Education Essay Contest

2024 Essay Contest

NCSC's Civics Education Essay Contest gives 3rd-12th grade students the opportunity to understand and explain the importance and the role of the United States government. The entry period has closed. Winners will be announced on May 1.

  • Essay Prompts:

      Elementary School - Justice Sandra Day O'Connor believed that people should take part in their communities and government. What does it mean to be involved in your community? Can you think of ways you can help make your school or neighborhood a better place? (100 words)

      Middle and High School - Justice Sandra Day O'Connor stressed the importance of civic engagement. Discuss the role she believed citizens should play in shaping their communities and government. Why did she think that civic participation is so important to democracy? (250 words)

  • Essay prize money is awarded to the top three winners in each grade level
      • High school - $1050/ $550/ $300
      • Middle school - $450/ $250/ $150
      • Elementary school - $350/ $200/ $150

Contest history



Elementary/Middle school: The First Amendment protects freedom of speech. What happens when people are free to say anything they want in person or online? For example, yelling "fire" in a crowded room or posting hateful words on social media. What kind of free speech situations require a judge or police officer to get involved to keep the peace?

High school: In 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a high school cheerleader could not be punished in school for using curse words on social media when commenting about not making the cheer team while she was off school grounds. Do you think students should be held to the same standard when exercising their First Amendment right to freedom of speech whether they’re on or off school property? Decide if there are circumstances where students should be punished by a court of law for what they say or write to maintain civility.

Read the Press Release
Read the winning essays


Question: Which Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has made the biggest difference in people’s lives? Explain how and why.

Read the press release.
Read the winning entries
Watch the winner's video


Question: What does the rule of law mean to you?

Read the winning entries.



Elementary/Middle school: Why is it so important that all citizens have the right to vote?
High school: Is voting a right, privilege or responsibility? Why?

Read the press release.
Read the winning entries.