Indiana, Colorado students win NCSC’s Civics Education Essay Contest

Deirdre Roesch
Social Communications Coordinator
National Center for State Courts

Indiana, Colorado students win NCSC’s Civics Education Essay Contest

Williamsburg, Va., April 23, 2018 – Two students from Indiana and one from Colorado won first place in the National Center for State Courts’ (NCSC) 2018 Civics Education Essay Contest, which is divided into three categories: elementary, middle, and high school.

The contest, which focused on the separation of powers, asked students to answer this question: “Why did the Founding Fathers create the three branches of government?” 

In all, 582 students from 26 states, Washington D.C., India and Italy, participated. First-place winners, who will each receive $100 Amazon gift cards, include: 

  • Raquel Atkins, a fifth-grader at Glen Park Academy in Gary, Indiana;
  • Liberty Bell, an eighth-grader at West Middle School in Centennial, Colorado; and
  • Randi Mincy, a 12th-grader at Harrison High School in Evansville, Indiana.

NCSC’s essay contest is held annually to commemorate Law Day, May 1. Before judging, students’ names, schools and states are removed from the entries. The winning essays are selected based on accuracy, creativity, and originality. This year, Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and retired Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Dana Fabe judged finalists’ entries. 

The justices favored fifth-grader Raquel Atkins’ essay because it included images. Chief Justice O’Connor said the essay “was completely reflective of children’s new learning pattern.”  In the middle-school category, both judges agreed that Liberty Bell—no relation to Founding Father Benjamin Franklin—was the clear winner with her creative and powerful poem, “One Man?” The judges deemed Randi Mincy’s essay as the most well-written in the high school category. 

Second- and third-place winners include:

  • 3rd – 5th grade: Savannah Tournear from Covenant Christian Academy in Warrenton, Virginia, received second place; and Seth Morris from Sugar Creek Consolidated in West Terre Haute, Indiana, came in third. 
  • 6th – 8th grade: Sophia Pilling from West Middle School in Centennial, Colorado, won second place; and Makayla Blount from Darnell Cookman School of the Medical Arts in Jacksonville, Florida, is the third-place winner.
  • 9th – 12th grade: Molly Eckelkamp from Washington High School in Washington, Missouri, is the second-place winner, and Michael Laminak from Wortham High School in Wortham, Texas, came in third.

Read the winning essay entries here.

Every year to honor Law Day, the American Bar Association (ABA) designates a theme to highlight an important issue relating to the law or the legal system. For the past five years, NCSC has framed its essay contest question around ABA’s Law Day subject, which in 2018 is “Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom.”

The National Center for State Courts, headquartered in Williamsburg, Va., is a nonprofit court organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to the state courts. Founded in 1971 by the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger, NCSC provides education, training, technology, management, and research services to the nation’s state courts.



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