NCSC reveals winners of 2021 Civics Education Essay Contest
If someone asked what the rule of law means to you, how would you respond? Would you declare it as a set of rules you are required to follow? Would you say it’s meant to protect Americans from chaos? Or that they’re laws designed to keep us safe?
The interesting aspect about the rule of law is that most of us would define it differently. That was certainly the case in the entries received for NCSC’s 2021 Civics Education Essay Contest. Third- through 12th-grade students provided unique, insightful and timely perspectives on the rule of law.
“NCSC’s civics essay contest has grown significantly in recent years, and this year we received a record number of entries,” said NCSC President Mary C. McQueen. “Students from nearly every state and from several countries participated, each providing a voice of optimism and understanding about our justice system that is encouraging and valuable for us to hear.”
NCSC’s essay contest is held each year in recognition of Law Day, May 1. The American Bar Association selects each year’s theme, with this year’s being: Advancing the Rule of Law Now.
The record number of entries and personal perspectives made it difficult to dwindle down the list of finalists, said Deirdre Roesch, NCSC senior communications coordinator and essay contest manager. “You could tell current events have affected their lives in so many ways in this past year. Ultimately, selecting the winners came down to eloquence and creativity,” Roesch said.
Ashley Lin, the first-place high school winner from Arcadia, California, wrote a poetic and profound essay declaring the rule of law an American dream. “The rule of the law preaches the respect that every member of our community deserves, and from it I have adopted the holistic perspective that each story is a critical integrant in the design of our nation’s uniquely diverse mosaic,” wrote Lin. “Beneath the variance of skin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and ability, we are one people—united by a shared language of hope and equality.”
First-place middle school winner Caroline Rhodes, from Austin, Texas, believes “the rule of law serves to not only create order, but to protect our country from crime, bad leadership, and favoritism among citizens.”
Sabina Perez, the first-place elementary school winner from Fredericksburg, Texas, thinks "the rule of law is like a shield defending me from unfairness. It makes me feel brave to stand up for my rights and to speak up to help others.”
Watch the first-, second- and third-place winners recite their essays here.
This year’s contest yielded a record 1,826 entries. Seventy-one percent of those entries came from high school students. Students from 48 states and 10 countries participated. The nine winners received a total of $3,000 in cash.