High School Essay Contest Will Award $115,000 In Prizes

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ARLINGTON, Va. – U.S. high school students and their teachers are invited to compete for nearly $115,000 in prize money by participating in the Bill of Rights Institute’s fifth annual Being an American Essay Contest. Top prize winners and their teachers will also receive all-expenses paid trips to the nation’s capital.

The largest high school essay contest in the country, awarding 180 students and teachers with cash prizes and attracting more than 50,000 essays last year, explores the rights and responsibilities of American citizenship. The contest is administered by the Bill of Rights Institute, a non-profit educational organization in the Washington, D.C. area devoted to educating children about the Constitution and Founding principles. The sponsors include the History Channel and the Stuart Family Foundation.

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“This contest is unique in that it gives students the opportunity to think about the important civic values communicated in our Founding documents, and embodied by American civic heroes,” said Dr. Jason Ross, Bill of Rights Institute Vice President of Education Programs. “This context is vital to helping students see their own acts of good citizenship as a meaningful part of the American experiment of self-government.”

Specifically, students are asked to share their thoughts on American citizenship by answering the following question: “What civic value do you believe is most essential to being an American?”

The top three student winners and their teachers from each of the nine geographical regions will be announced at a special Washington, D.C. Awards Gala in the spring of 2011, where they will be awarded cash prizes of $5,000 (First Place), $1,000 (Second Place), and $500 (Third Place). The winning students will also explore the nation’s capital, meet contemporary American heroes and national leaders, and visit national landmarks.

Additionally, the contest will award 126 honorable mention prizes of $100 to seven students and their teachers from each region.

“The contest not only honors and awards sponsoring teachers, but also equips them with free lesson plans and other supplemental materials that meet state and national academic standards so they can easily incorporate the essay contest into their classrooms,” said Being an American Essay Contest Director John Croft.

Nearly 100,000 students have participated in the essay contest since it began in 2006. Now in its fifth year, the contest is the largest high school essay contest in the country.

“The Being an American Essay Contest is a wonderful way to awaken students’ interest in the ideas of the American Founding. The Stuart Family Foundation is honored to be one of the Contest’s supporters,” said Stuart Family Foundation Executive Director Truman Anderson.

Complete contest details can be found below. Further information, including submission criteria, lesson plans and background information on the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Founders and other Americans who have contributed to America’s shared civic values, are available at www.BeingAnAmerican.org.


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