banner image

NCSC announces 2024 Civics Education Essay Contest winners

NCSC announces 2024 Civics Education Essay Contest winners

May 1, 2024 -- Students from across the country reflected on Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's influence on civics education for American youth and her perspective on the importance of civic engagement by all citizens during NCSC’s 2024 Civics Education Essay Contest.

Over the past decade, NCSC has challenged students to reflect on civics education and the U.S. Constitution. This year, students addressed two age-appropriate questions about citizen participation in their communities and government.

NCSC President Mary McQueen said recognizing the late Supreme Court justice was especially fitting given Justice O’Connor’s passion for civics education.

"Justice O’Connor was deeply committed to educating the younger generation about democracy and the fundamental democratic principles that form our society,” McQueen said. “She believed civic participation beyond voting is vital to our democracy, and she urged citizens to become involved in their schools, neighborhoods, and communities."

The high school first-place winner, Daniella Cuevas of California, discussed Justice O'Connor's commitment and belief that the democratic process is not a spectator sport.

"O'Connor was adamant that a democracy is likely to thrive when its citizens are well-informed of how their government operates, conscious of their rights and obligations, and actively engaged in the political process by casting informed ballots, serving on juries, participating in public discourse, and performing community service," she wrote.

Other first-place winners include middle schooler Sophia Ling from California and Texas elementary school student Nicholas Jakimier.

The contest drew 800 essays from 48 states and the District of Columbia. Essays were scored based on the student's understanding of the topic, creativity, grammar, spelling, and style. The nine winners will receive cash prizes totaling $3,450.

Essays were blind judged by NCSC staff and a finalist panel with NCSC Board Chair and D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby and Judge Nancy Vaidik of the Court of Appeals of Indiana, the 2023 recipient of NCSC's Sandra Day O'Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education.

For a complete list of winners and to read the winning essays, visit