National essay contest encourages students to read the Constitution

we the people
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ST. GEORGE – A national essay contest asks young people why the U.S. Constitution is important.

The Being An American essay contest, sponsored by the Bill of Rights Institute in Arlington, Va., ask high school students across the United States this question: “How does the Constitution establish and maintain a culture of freedom?”

“The goal of the contest is to encourage students across the country to read the Constitution,” said Rachel Gillespie, the Bill of Rights Institute’s director of communications.

Bryan Hyde, a co-host of the Perspectives Morning Show on Fox News 1450 AM, said that he liked the idea behind the contest.  If someone asked 10 random people on the street the same question the essay did, Hyde said, the majority of those people may have no idea how to answer it.

“Young people who actually know what they stand for is rare,” Hyde said.

It is the goal of the Bill of Rights Institute to help young people know exactly what they stand for.

According to a press release from the Bill of Rights Institute, the essay contest is meant to help young people understand why the Constitution is a “meaningful part of the American experiment in self-government.”

The History Channel is also sponsoring the Being An American essay contest for the 2011-2012 year.

Dr. Libby O’Connell, a spokesman for the History Channel, said, “The contest encourages students to think critically and truly makes the past relevant in their lives. “

Winners of the essay contest will receive a cash reward of $1,000. There will be second and third place winners, as well as honorable mentions.  Regardless of placement, teachers of students with winning essays will receive $100.

For the contest, the Bill of Rights Institute divides the United States into five geographic regions, making five first place winners possible.

During the 2010-11 contest year, Heidi Sorensen of Gunnison won first place for the western region. Her sister, Dixie Sorensen, won third place in the 2009-10 contest.

The Being An American essay contest officially began on Sept. 17, 2011. Submissions will be accepted until 11:59 p.m., Dec. 15, 2011. Winners are announced in February 2012.

For additional information, including contest rules and restrictions, visit the Bill of Rights Institute website:  http://www.billofrightsinstitute.org/

mkessler@stgnews.com

Copyright 2011 St. George News. This material may not be published or rewritten without written consent.

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