National Essay Competition 2009

Awards
2018 High School Essay Contest

Topic: “Why do we — as consumers of media — need to obtain news from multiple feeds and not just one or two outlets?”

2017 Contest Winners
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First Place National Essay Winner
($1,000 scholarship)
Lauryn Wu, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Virginia
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— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Co-winner: Aliza Diepenbrock, Spring Street International School, Friday Harbor, Washington
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— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Co-winner: Carolyn Harper, Bob Jones High School, Madison, Alabama
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— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Eileen Yang, Peddie School, Hightstown, New Jersey
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Resources for scholastic journalists and educators

JEA Digital Media Resources
Multimedia Tools
Guide to Broadcast/Video
Guide to Moving Online


Previous honorees

2016 Contest Winners

— First Place National Essay Winner ($1,000 scholarship): Simon Levien, Sparta High School, Sparta, N.J.
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— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: David Oks, The Masters School, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.
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— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Christine Condon, Dulaney High School, Timonium, Md.
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2015 Contest Winners

— First Place National Essay Winner ($1,000 scholarship): Matthew Zipf, Richard Montgomery High School, Rockville, Md.
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— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Philip Kim, Paramus High School, Paramus, N.J.
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— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Sania Chandrani, Parkview High School, Liburn, Ga.
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2014 Contest Winners

— First Place National Essay Winner ($1,000 scholarship): Tianyu Lin of Milton Academy in Milton, Mass.
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— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Phoebe Fox of La Pietra Hawaii School for Girls in Honolulu, Hawaii
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— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Jacob Bloch of Paul D. Schreiber High School in Port Washington, N.Y.
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2013 Contest Winners
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— First Place National Essay Winner ($1,000 scholarship): Courtney Swafford of Write from the Heart in Wilmington, Del.
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— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Anran Yu of Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Ariz.
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— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Chuli Zeng of Woodbridge High School in Irvine, Calif.
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2012 Contest Winners
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— First Place National Essay Winner ($1,000 scholarship): Hwasung (Daniel) Yoo of Maggie L. Walker Governor's School for Government and International Studies in Richmond, Va.
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— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Niisackey Mills of South Plainfield High School in South Plainfield, N.J.
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— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Dustin Chandler of East Burke High School in Connellys Springs, N.C.
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2011 Contest Winners
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— First Place National Essay Winner ($1,000 scholarship): Emerson Hardebeck of Timberline High School in Lacey, Wash.
Read essay [PDF, 139 KB]
— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Shaun Moran of St. Augustine Prep School in Richland, N.J.
Read essay [PDF, 78 KB]
— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Chris Papas of Oakton High School in Vienna, Va. Read essay [PDF, 74 KB]


2010 Contest Winners
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— First Place National Essay Winner ($1,000 scholarship): Erin McDonough of Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Va.
— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Shaj Mathew of Huntingtown High School in Huntingtown, Md.
— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Xiaonan “April” Hu of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va.


2009 Contest Winners
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— First Place National Essay Winner ($1,000 scholarship): Alix Cohen of Cypress Bay High School, Weston, Fla.
— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Victor Hollenberg of Staples High School, Westport, Conn.
— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Alyssa Patrick of Eisenhower High School, Yakima, Wash.


2008 Contest Winners
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— First Place National Essay Winner ($1,000 scholarship): Mark Brouch, Aurora Central Catholic High School, Aurora, Ill.
— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Evan Rich, Jericho High School, Jericho, N.Y.
— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Danna Seligman, Newbury Park High School, Newbury Park, Ca.


2007 Contest Winners
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— First Place National Essay Winner ($1,000 scholarship): David Kelly, Broomfield High School, Broomfield, Colo.
— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Dan Garon, Robbinsdale Armstrong High School, Plymouth, Minn.
— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Erin Gowdy, Bob Jones High School, Madison, Ala.


2006 Contest Winners
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— First Place National Essay Winner ($1,000 scholarship): Angelika Zych, Vanguard High School, in Ocala, Fla.
— Second Place, $500 Scholarship Winner: Jonathan Homrighausen of Sunnyside High School in Sunnyside, Wash.
— Third Place, $300 Scholarship Winner: Amy Brooks of Clayton High School in Clayton, Mo.


2005 Contest Winners
— First Place National Essay Winner ($1,000 scholarship winner) : Mindy Zhang, Robinson Secondary School, Fairfax, Va.
— Second Place ($500 scholarship winner): Zachory John Drisko, Green Hope High School, Cary, N.C.
— Third Place ($300 scholarship winner): Katie Roberts, Home schooled, Walnut Shade, Mo.


2004 Contest Winners
— First Place National Essay Winner ($1,000 scholarship winner): Heather Hamilton, Sentinel High School, Missoula, Mont.
— Second Place ($500 scholarship winner): Logan Oyler, Hickory High School, Chesapeake, Va.
— Third Place ($300 scholarship winner): Joey Muffler, Bishop Ireton High School Alexandria, VA


2002 National First Place Winner
Jonathan Ross Kaplan, Nova High School, Davie, Fla.

2000 National First Place Winner
Katie Pennock, West Henderson High School, Hendersonville, NC

1999 National First Place Winner
Darcy Colson Baxter, Lansing Central High School (near Ithaca, N.Y.)

1998 National First Place Winner
Michael Anthony Fedele III, Northwestern High School, Rock Hill, S.C.

Postmark deadline: February 23, 2018

Nominations accepted beginning November 3, 2017

The Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Journalism Education Association want to increase high school students’ knowledge and understanding of the importance of independent media to our lives. National winners of this essay contest receive scholarship awards.

Award recognition

First Place: $1,000 scholarship
Second Place: $500 scholarship
Third Place: $300 scholarship

Entry Deadline

All entries should be postmarked by February 23, 2018.


Complete Official Rules and How to Enter

For official contest rules and information on how to enter this year’s High School Essay Contest, please visit this link.

A simple question posed by an Arlington County-based organization prompted tens of thousands of high school students nationwide to respond, providing a panoramic view into how today's youths view America's national identity.

"What civic value do you believe is most essential to being an American?" the Bill of Rights Institute asked for an essay contest.

What followed were 31,595 responses, more than double the amount the institute received last year and about seven times the number it received when the contest started in 2006. Institute officials said they think it is the largest high school essay contest in the country.

"A lot of people don't give students a lot of credit, but these students really are thinking about what it means to be an American," contest director Jason Wilson said. "The number of participants this year sort of speaks for itself: Students are interested in writing about this, and they are thinking about this."

The values students listed included education and equality, perseverance and progress.

The organization awards three top prizes in each of nine regions of the country, giving winners and their teachers a cash reward and a trip to the District at the end of this month. The trip includes a tour of the National Archives before it opens to the public, a reception on Capitol Hill with members of Congress and a gala with an Oscar-style presentation of the awards. The students know they are finalists but won't find out their rankings, and the size of their prizes, until then.

Two of the top winners from the south Atlantic region are from Maryland. One of them, Elena Kim Perry of Bethesda, said she decided to enter the contest after her mother saw it on the Internet.

"In one aspect, it was the opportunity for scholarship money, but among all the other essay contests out there, I thought it had a lot of relevance to my life and everyone's life around me," she said.

She said she considered writing about courage or hard work but in the end chose tolerance:

"As we now find ourselves in the midst of a global war on terror, the need for religious and ethnic tolerance is as vital as ever. Too often, anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiments are confused with anti-terrorism, and unless we, the American people, renew our commitment to tolerance, we risk falling down a slippery slope of hatred and division. In a nation of such diversity, peace and justice cannot exist -- nor can we promote these ideals abroad -- without the values of tolerance and respect."

Perry said the idea came to her during last year's election campaign when former secretary of state Colin S. Powell addressed the rumors that Barack Obama was Muslim by saying, "the really right answer is, 'What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?' The answer's no, that's not America."

Perry, 17, a student at Richard Montgomery High School, said that she attends a Christian church that shares its building with a Jewish congregation and that the two occasionally hold joint services. While researching her essay, she said, she learned that before the Bill of Rights was ratified, George Washington wrote a letter to a Jewish congregation in Rhode Island saying the U.S. government would give "to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance."

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