Williamsburg, Va. (April 30, 2019) – Two students from New Jersey and one from Colorado won first place in the National Center for State Courts’ (NCSC) 2019 Civics Education Essay Contest, which is divided into three categories: elementary, middle, and high school.
The contest, which focused on the First Amendment, asked students to answer the following questions: “Should there be limits to free speech? Why or why not?”
This year’s first-place winners are:
A record number of 1,188 students from 41 states participated in the contest. This year, thanks to an anonymous donor, the nine winners received a total of $2,100 in cash.
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, Vermont Chief Justice Paul Reiber and Marilyn Cover, ret., former executive director of Oregon’s Classroom Law Project and the recipient of NCSC’s 2018 Sandra Day O’Connor Award, judged the final round of the contest.
Second- and third-place winners include:
Chief Justice Reiber was incredibly impressed by the elementary school essay entries. “Substance is what captures me, that’s why Nicolas Bernardi and Harun Rayyan Siddiqui’s essays caught my attention. Cyberbullying is a real concern in school and that’s why Haven Nguyen’s essay struck a chord with me as well.”
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 six years, NCSC has framed its essay contest question around ABA’s Law Day subject, which in 2019 is “Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society.”
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.