The Constitution Essay Contest offers writers an opportunity to pause and reflect on America’s founding document. As an educator for nearly three decades, Constitution Essay Contest judge Sandra Lemen hopes essay writers will reflect on the relevance of the Constitution today.
“It guides our lives, it guides our laws and it enables our nation to thrive,” Lemen said.
This year’s annual Constitution Essay Contest, founded by attorney Larry Kobrovsky, focuses on the First Amendment, but specifically seeks readers to express their ideas on “the right of the people to assemble peacefully and to demand the government to redress its grievances.”
Lemen said the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment give Americans a voice. During her time as a social studies and government teacher for high school students, she taught students how central the Constitution was to building America after the American Revolution. She said that even though the Founding Fathers wrote the document hundreds of years ago, First Amendment rights continue to play out in the lives of Americans.
“At first people might think ‘this doesn’t affect my life.’ It’s a document in Washington, DC and a bunch of old guys wrote it,” Lemen said.
She said that after taking the time to read and understand the Constitution, people would understand its implications in their own lives. For example, Lemen said the First Amendment gives people the right to gather in support of a particular candidate or peacefully protest an issue that a group is passionate about. First Amendment rights extend to the local level, Lemen added. People have the right to participate in community meetings to express their opinions on public education decisions or planning projects.
Lemen hopes the writers reflect on what it would be like to live without First Amendment rights. “In countries where people don’t have that right, you can’t freely express your opinion on anything and you can’t get together and discuss it,” Lemen said.
As a judge for the Constitution Essay Contest, Lemen will seek out writers to relate the First Amendment to everyday life. She said it would look different for different age groups — an adult might have seen the First Amendment play out in different ways than a middle school student. She looks forward to reading the essays of all three age groups because of her experience as a teacher. She encourages writers to learn something new about the country’s founding document through the essay contest. Additionally, she said it was important that the authors show a clear understanding of the First Amendment in the essay.
Judges will look for a well-written, focused essay that is logical, clear, and stays to the point. An authentic voice often distinguishes one essay from another.
The essay contest starts on March 9 and ends on April 13. Only online submissions are accepted. Entries must be submitted to: moultrienews.com/constitution-essay.
The competition is open to students and adults. Students from local middle and high schools are encouraged to participate. In addition, the teacher with the most students in their class participating in the contest will receive $250.
The best essay in each of the three age categories will receive a cash prize:
College Winner – $250
High School Winner – $250
Adult winner — $500
Essays should be double-spaced in Times New Roman 12 point font. Middle school students should not write more than 300 words. High school students and adult essays should not exceed 500 words.