One activity that I've found to be rewarding is being involved in the Constitution Day Essay Contest for students, sponsored by a group I'm involved with.
The contest takes a lot of work, but it’s so much fun to listen to the three winners read their essays at the annual Constitution Day Dinner. There are three levels, grades 4-6, middle school and high school, and they win cash prizes ($100, $200 and $300). The kids don’t just do research, they put their hearts into their ideas and opinions.
I’m writing this because several people and another community group have requested information on how we set up the contest, examples of essay questions, word length, judging, etc. We started this contest in 2015 with this purpose: The Constitution Day Essay Contest is designed to challenge students to learn more about the Constitution and to express original, thoughtful ideas in essay writing. The question for the first contest was: “Which of the signers of the Constitution is your favorite and why? Support your answers.” That was the most fun one of all our questions, and we may repeat it next year as a topic.
The questions have grown harder over the years, but still, we always have kids who will dig into the Constitution and enter. This year’s winner in the high school category said that she did so much research on federalism (the 2022 topic) that she felt as if she’d completed a history course. We were thrilled to hear that since the whole purpose is to get students to delve deeply into the Constitution. We are glad to help any group set this contest up in their area.