Students and teacher may compete in American Essay contest

COAST CITIES — 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 nonprofit 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.
“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 Jason Ross, Bill of Rights Institute’s 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, $1,000 and $500. 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.
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